Amy Tan Short Stories

Literary Analysis Of Mother Tongue By Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Language barriers and cultural differences is a real issue for people. Children of immigrant families get a unique view and experience as a bilingual kid; they will become familiar with two different backgrounds. Amy Tan, Author of “Mother Tongue” uses her personal experiences with her mother to create a contrast between her mother who speaks “broken English”, other people and herself who speaks “perfect English” yet is also fluent in ‘broken English. Tan talks about how people are treated differently based on how they speak, if you seem to be more sophisticated and precisely say your sentences, you can earn people’s respect easier. She uses her essay to persuade people that language is not so superficial.

In “Mother Tongue”, Amy Tan uses anecdotes and anaphora to emphasize that language is not about the surface structure, but rather about the underlying meaning the thoughts come from. Tan uses anecdotes throughout the essay to describe her growing wisdom of language and its evolving roles in her life. She found that while she is presents formal lectures, she uses phrases such as “The intersection of memory upon imagination” and “There is an aspect of my fiction that relates to thus- and- thus”. But when she is with her mother, she will use the same “broken English” her mother uses. When they were talking about the “price of used furniture, she found herself saying this: “Not waste money this way”. This illustrates the difference between the two types of language Tan uses. It may be habit for her mother to better understand, but Tan does states that her mother is capable of understanding words. These anecdotes lead to a large flasehood that people who have language barriers are not smart enough to understand what is being said. It has been pressed into us, that we need to sound smart in order for people to believe that we are smart. However, Tan uses these anecdotes to argue that we cannot judge a persons faulted speech, it’s the passion with which one speaks and the meaning that they are trying to relay, which makes a person a truly effective speaker. Tan also uses repetition to make comparison between her “perfect English” and her mother’s “broken English”, by describing the specific issues each has.

On top of the constant use of broken, simple, imperfect and perfect English to describe the difference between her and her mother’s speech, the author also uses repetition when describing other people’s view of her mother’s speech. Tan did not have issues understanding her mother’s language because she grew up with it, but “some of her friends said they understand 50 percent of what her mother said. Some say they understand 80 to 90 percent. Some say they understand none of is, as if she were speaking pure Chinese”. Then she goes on to say that “her mother’s English is the perfectly clear, perfectly natural” because she grew up around it. This clearly shows a distinction between Tans view and other peoples view of her mother’s language. It gives the audience an image of her having a foot in both cultures. She gains more credibility this way by speaking from personal experience. She clearly shows that although others might see one a certain way, others can see them a different way, and language, like many other things, can’t be judged quickly.

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Rhetorical Analysis Of Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the essay “Mother Tongue”, Amy Tan believes that everyone speaks different languages in certain settings and are labeled by the way they speak. The author interested by how language is utilized in our daily life” and uses language as a daily part of her work as a writer. Throughout her life she recognizes her struggles applying proper English instead of the broken used in her home. She became aware of how she spoke was when giving a lecture about her book The Joy Club and realized her mother who was in the audience did not understand what was being discussed. This was because she never used proper English in her home or talking to her mother. It is her belief utilizing proper English and broken English is essential in communication depending who you are talking to. The next time she noticed this about her English was when walking with her parents, she made the statement “not waste money that way”. This is due to the language barrier in her household that is used only by her family. Her mother was raised in China and spoke Mandarin her English always came across as broken to everyone outside the family, which made it hard for her to understand when someone spoke proper English.

Amy insured everyone that met her mother’s that even though her English seem “broken” it does not reflect her intelligence. Even though people placed this label on her mother of the way she spoke she rejected the idea that her mother English is “limited”. She highlights the fact that even her mother recognizes that her opportunities and interactions in life are limited by the English language. Amy Tan realizes that how you communicate within the family dynamic, especially for immigrant families plays a large role in in the growth of the child. It allowed her to acknowledge that perhaps her family’s language had an effect on the opportunities she was provided in her life. For instance in her experience, she notices that Asian students actually do better in math tests than in language tests, and she questions whether or not other Asian students are discouraged from writing or directed in the direction of math and science. Tan changed her major from pre-med to English and she decided to become a freelance writer even though her boss told her she couldn’t write. She eventually went on to write fiction, she celebrates the fact that she did not follow the expectations that people had of her because of her struggle with writing and language. With her mother as an influence Tan decided to write her stories for people like her, people with “broken” or “limited” English. In the essay, Mother Tongue, Amy Tan goes to great length to persuade the readers of her experiences being multicultural family that the effectiveness and the price an individual pays by insuring that their ideas and intents do not change due to the way they speak, whether they use “perfect” or “broken” English. Tan also clarifies to the readers that her “mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands”. She uses many examples to take readers into her life experiences to discover this truth. She utilizes the first person view throughout the essay and adds her firsthand knowledge of growing up with a multiple languages spoken in the home. This was done to validate of her argument and shine a light on the importance of this issue in her life as well as her culture.

The examples she uses is when she tells a story of her mother’s struggles with a stockbroker because of her “broken “ English, Tan quotes her mother’s words “Why he not send me check, already two weeks late. So mad he lie to me, losing me money”. Amy Tan did this to give the readers an idea on how this particular situation played out and how her mother’s English affected outcome. The authors writing is also very emotional and somewhat angry at throughout the essay, it makes her and her family very sympathetic figures. Tan’s specific concern is being shunned by both white-America and the Asian population. This also further her strengthen her views that puts her in an equally frustrating position from the perspective of Americans with the stereotypical views of Asians. Many people in college looked at her funny for being an English major instead of Math as a major. Individuals of Chinese decent are associated with math or science and that is because of the stereotyping that Asian receive. This is based on studies being conducted that a majority of Asians do in fact excel in mathematics and sciences.

Amy also observed that many of her instructors towards math and science as well and was even told by a former boss that writing was not biggest attribute and should focus more onto her account management skills. The author states that “perhaps they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science, which is what happened to me”. The author utilized the nonfiction essay form to discuss how language played a major role in her life. This also allowed her to show the readers how her relationship with the English language and her mother has changed over the years. In her essay, Mother Tongue Amy Tan describes numerous incidences that helped shape her views as a writer. The uses of first persons account to describe her experiences with her mother and how her mother’s use of the English language influenced her upbringing, such as a story her mother once told her about a guest at her mother’s wedding “Du Yusong having business like fruit stand. Like off-the-street kind. He is Du like Du Zong – but not Tsung-ming Island people….That man want to ask Du Zong father take him in like become own family. Du Zong father wasn’t look down on him, but didn’t take seriously, until that man big like become a mafia. Now important person, very hard to inviting him. She may have chosen to focus on this type sentence structure because it gave the readers sense of awareness into her life and also to make it easier for them to understand the factors that shaped her style as a writer. In conclusion after reading Mother Tongue, it became very apparent that her mother played an important part in the author’s life. However, after further reading, I determined that she could have been addressing a specific group of people. She is also explaining her story to people who read her works, since so much of her literature seems to be influenced by how she views of the English language. Amy Tan goes to great lengths in the essay to give bits and pieces of how she overcame the perception that many people had of her, since she did not do as well with English-related schooling as she did with the Sciences, or Math.

Works Cited

  1. Tan, Amy. ‘Mother Tongue.’ Wake Tech English 111. 1990. 275-280.
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Analysis Of Pathos, Ethos And Logos In Mother Tongue By Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Does everyone consider English as a single language? There are inferences that English is a single language, but in reality, people develop diverse versions of English as their mother tongue such that it is very uncommon to discover two people that speak the exact same English because there are so many different forms of the language. A well-known author, Amy Tan recalls “all the Englishes that she grew up with”, all of which influence her perception of the world as well as her own English. In sequential instances alluding to her “broken English”, Tan conveys the development of preconceived notions of her mother’s intelligence measured solely on how fluently she spoke. Through the use of pathos, ethos and logos, Tan suggests that the spoken word is meant to captivate an individual’s “intent”, “passion”, “imagery”, “rhythms of speech”, and “nature of thoughts”- his or her truest self while communicating with others.

In addition, by analyzing how Tan’s perception of her mother was affected by her mother’s English, it allowed Tan to come to the realization that she, too, forgot the true objective of the English language – to reflect one’s personality in its entirety. Tan’s emotional side confesses that “she was ashamed of her English”. Just as any average Joe, Tan belittles her mother’s thoughts simply because she could not express them perfectly. However, she comes to the revelation that the quality of expression does not correlate to quality of thought. Tan confirms this train of thought when she affirms that her mother’s tongue “was the language that helped shape the way she saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world” which asserts the power of language. The language we are accustomed to hearing affects our thoughts as well as our beliefs which in turn influence the type of language that we use to express these ideas. Thus, Mrs. Tan taught her daughter that spoken English is a reflection of one’s truest self. Could add example of hospital incident where the hospital did not apologize when they lost the CAT scan and remove some above to make it more relevant to pathos”. Amy Tan uses ethos to present the idea that societal expectations must not negatively influence one’s perception. When Mrs. Tan visited the hospital for a CAT scan “the hospital did not apologize…or have any sympathy…”, which exemplifies the repercussions of letting society negatively affect one’s views. While the hospital did not provide proper service to Mrs. Tan due to her broken English, they were able to address all of the concerns once Tan was involved and was able to communicate with the hospital staff in proper English.

Furthermore, Tan addresses “why are not more Asian Americans represented in American literature. Why are there few Asian Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do so many Chinese American students go into engineering?” with the fact that many teachers steer students toward math and science degrees, while diverting them from reading and writing even if that is what they enjoy more.

Lastly, Tan puts forward logos in providing evidence by her analogies to her mother as well. Mrs. Tan proved that she could understand people when they spoke perfect or regular English as well as when she read in English such that Amy expresses “…my mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands. She reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week…and reads all of Shirley MacLaine’s books with ease — all kinds of things I can’t begin to understand.” The logic behind this validates her point that if she can comprehend English perfectly while still speaking in broken English, then perhaps other people who are treated as if they cannot understand actually do.

Conclusively, Amy Tan exemplifies emotional, ethical, and logical strategies to develop a strong argument the English language can be quite diverse. There are instances where an emotional approach allowed Tan to come to the realization that Mrs. Tan is treated unfairly in society due to her poor language skills. Meanwhile, Tan’s ethics allow her to diminish thoughts that Mrs. Tan’s spoken English represents her ability to comprehend English. While some may believe that English is a single language, many individuals would argue that they develop diverse versions of English as their mother tongue.

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Analysis of Amy Tan’s Language Experiences Depicted in Mother Tongue

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The inability to communicate in fluent English is sometimes unfairly characterized as an incapacitation. At the point when individuals can’t impart their musings in familiar English, those listening to them fail to address them with the seriousness required. In some cases, it is seen as some form of disability and a person is demeaned. Together with her mother, Tan has been on the receiving end of such treatment. She notes with concern that “when I was growing up, my mother’s ‘limited’ English limited my perception of her”. Amy has additionally adopted the mentality of belittling individuals whose English was broken. Like the public around her and her mother, she had made life more challenging to people who were unable to use fluent English. The extent of challenges that facing immigrant families throughout the history is one that was extended to their race. For Tan and her mother, their fear was that they would be treated as outsiders and no one would care to see beyond their Chinese origin. These emotions are also echoed in The Blackness of “Broken English” when Rudolf Gaudio lamented of the severity of the discrimination. For English speaking Americans, sprinkling of pseudo-Spanish words such as Exactamndo is excused as a funnier way to say exactly. Also, they would use African American English expressions such as We Be Growing and Da Crib and find an excuse for the same. However, when others use the same method to communicate, the English-speaking Americans do not tolerate them. In so doing, Gaudio points out that this has been used to racialize “practices of linguistic appropriation”. Such is the rampancy of discriminating people based on their accents that immigrant families find it difficult to communicate in the public space.

For immigrant families, the discriminatory practices have even forced them into unpopular tactics such as faking their identities. As a result of the embarrassment associated with speaking broken English, immigrants have to resort to other tactics of creating fake identities so as to cover up for their supposed imperfection. Amy reckons that her mother had made her peace with her poor English. However, for her to be taken seriously, she had to ask Amy to pretend to be her so that communication between her and other English-speaking people is taken seriously. She recalls calling people on the phone in place of her mother and doing what her mother would ordinarily do. When dealing with her mother’s stockbroker, for instance, she recalls having to “get on the phone and say in an adolescent voice that was not very convincing, ‘This is Mrs. Tan’. Amy’s mother had to recreate different personality under her daughter’s disguise to shield herself from the judgmental public. The English-speaking fraternity has sought to demean and degrade any person whose English is not fluent, and this has pushed the latter into such tactics. English-speaking has become a bone of contention all over the world in an undesirable manner. Each group continues to judge the other based on their ability to speak English, yet English should only be a medium of communication and a cultural symbol rather than a measure of intelligence. In Ireland, the debate of who is better than the other based on their English-speaking ability has been a perennial matter among the Chomskyans and Whorfians.

The two factions re always in argument on whose expression in English is the standard determination of what being Irish should entail. The said argument has often descended into “a verbal war” in a bid to determine “whether language determines thinking and culture, and as to whether English can be a suitable medium of expressing ‘Irishness’. From the above example, it is clear that the matter of speaking English has been blown out of proportion to include a reflection of a person’s authenticity of a particular group. The Irish scenario has now pitted two groups on opposing ends of this debate. Amy Tan’s narration expresses a more subtle version of discriminatory practices. However, it is from such subtle disagreements and stereotypes that considerable disagreements grow. People who do not use English as their first language also get looked down upon regardless of their achievements in other areas of life.

Amy Tan was a witness of the highly discriminatory behavior that persists in the school system irrespective of her performances in other subjects. She is frank enough to admit that her grades in English were not as impressive as those that she posted in others such as math and science. However, she would still manage to score Bs or B minuses which were impressive give that she would be between the sixtieth or seventieth percentile. By any measure, Tan was a good performer in school and that would have warranted her more respect. Since she was an immigrant, her grades in English were perceived as dismal yet her effort would not be considered adequate enough to “override the opinion that my true abilities lay in math and science”. This argument demonstrates that for immigrants, English is used as the single metric of their intelligence and all their other grades were discredited. This school of thought advances an unfair comparison and competition among English-speaking and immigrants’ learners. The efforts of immigrant persons in learning the English language is not only discredited in schools but in other public spaces as well. Tan lamented that the accent of immigrant persons significantly limited their confidence to speak in public. It would be perceived that any effort towards speaking fluent English would therefore be appreciated by the English-speaking people.

However, that was not always the case. In fact, any attempts to speak English were dismissed as their words were not comprehensible. Even after years of friendship, Tan noted that she had friends who did not necessarily understand her other when she tried to speak in English. In seeking their responses, some of them said they only understood, 80 or 90 percent of what she said, others had considerable harsh standards and told her that “they understand none of it, as if she were speaking pure Chinese”. This was a brutal assessment of Tan’s mother’s English as she had put a lot of effort into her communication skills.

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Searching for One’s Identity: the Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Hundred Secret Senses


The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan is a modern novel that delves into the search for an identity and the tumultuous life that family can bring. Throughout the novel, Olivia Yee Bishop narrates her life with her half-sister Kwan and the tales that she tells. Kwan, believing that she has yin eyes and can see ghosts, often tells Olivia stories of a past life that both women were a part of. While Olivia believes that Kwan’s stories are complete fallacy, time and trying circumstances begin to change her mind. Tan once again creates a brilliant story, one that shows Olivia’s self-exploration and how she finds it in her heart to accept her sister as she is.

Plot Summary:

The novel begins with Olivia Yee Bishop explaining how her relationship with her half-sister Kwan began. Olivia lives in California with her parents and brothers. As her father is dying, he asks her mother for a promise. This is to find his daughter, Kwan, in China and bring her home. No one in the family knew that he had another daughter, so this is a complete shock to them. Out of grief, Olivia’s mother ardently promises to find Kwan. After a long search, they are able to find her and bring her to California. Olivia, only five years old, is afraid that Kwan is going to get all of her mother’s attention and does not want her to live with them. Kwan, on the other hand, is a very open and naïve seventeen year old girl.

Olivia, whom Kwan calls Libby-ah, finds her older sister to be strange and annoying. One road block in their relationship is the fact that Kwan believes herself to have what she calls yin eyes, meaning that she can see and speak to ghosts. Immediately alarmed, Olivia tells the adults about the ghost stories, despite Kwan’s trust that she would keep it a secret. Kwan is soon put into a mental facility and forced to undergo electroshock therapy. After this, she is released and does not talk about ghosts- except to Olivia. The latter is overcome with guilt and does not tell anyone this time. Kwan, despite her period at the facility, does not fault Olivia. In fact, her love continues to grow and she sees them as a real family. She often cares for Olivia like a mother would for her daughter.

As time goes on, Kwan continues to tell stories of a so-called past life. She says that it begins in 1864 and that she is a young one-eyed girl called Nunumu. The village in which she lives becomes somewhat overrun with American foreigners, including General Cape, Yiban, and Miss Banner. Throughout the novel, obvious links between Miss Banner and Olivia are revealed, as well as links between Yiban and Simon. In Kwan’s stories, Miss Banner and Yiban fall in love and are constantly torn apart, but in the end their relationship endures. Olivia first thinks that Kwan is just trying to convince her to stay with Simon, but she slowly begins to believe the tales. In a way, she thinks that she is going crazy but she feels like she remembers what Kwan is talking about.

When Kwan is about forty, she tells Olivia once again how much she misses China. Olivia, feelings guilty for being a bad sister, decides that the two should take a trip there. Wanting to play matchmaker, Kwan arranges for Simon to join them as well. She hopes that this trip will smooth things over and perhaps save the marriage. The three journey to China and end up in Changmian, the village that Kwan grew up in. This village just happens to be the setting of the stories that Kwan tells Olivia. The premise of the trip is an article that Simon and Olivia have applied to write, Olivia being the photographer and Simon jotting down notes along the way.

The trip is interrupted when Kwan’s aunt, Big Ma, is killed in a bus accident. Before the funeral takes place, Simon and Olivia decide to go for a walk to the caves. They wander and wander, and Simon eventually goes off on his own. Olivia waits for him for the ten minutes he promised he would be gone and then goes to search for him. He is missing all night and later Kwan insists on going by herself to search for him in the caves. A few hours later, Simon returns from the opposite direction that Kwan left and Olivia is frantic. She, realizing that she is still in love with him, runs to him hurriedly.

The story jumps to that of two months later. Kwan still has not been found and has been pronounced dead by officials. A search party had been called in, but instead of finding Kwan, they found an “intricate maze of caves” (351). The search for Kwan was all but forgotten in the frenzy created by the newfound discovery. After Big Ma’s funeral, Simon and Olivia go back to California and try to put the past behind them.

Almost two years later, the final chapter begins. Simon and Olivia have a fourteen-month-old baby girl. Her name is Samantha Li, Kwan’s last name which both Olivia and her daughter have taken. They do not live with Simon all of the time, but they are trying to work things out. He comes over on the weekends and they are attempting to learn how to be a family. Olivia remembers Kwan and thinks about her often. She says that Kwan “intended to show [her] the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul” (358). Kwan and Olivia, despite their obvious differences, have influenced each other throughout their time together.

Setting Analysis:

The Hundred Secret Senses moves between California and China throughout the story. The modern part, with the Bishops and Kwan, takes place in California where the three live. The story that Kwan tells, on the other hand, occurs in China in the mid-1800s. This is during the final years of the Taiping Rebellion. During this time, Americans visited Changmian and set up their lives there. Nunumu, otherwise known as Kwan in a past life, and the Hakka people were approached by these missionaries. The missionaries claimed to be God Worshippers and wanted to live there. General Cape, the leader, called the people who lived in Changmian God Worshippers as well. He urged them to join him as soldiers and brought out gifts for the villagers, promising “Great Peace” (34). The Hakka people listened intently, believing that this peace was just around the corner. Eventually, he betrayed them and the people that were left in Changmian after the soldiers departed were stuck with next to nothing and very poor lives.

Without the time period of the Taiping Rebellion, this would not have been able to take place. The villagers would not be so desperate as to believe some foreigner’s empty promises and Nunumu would not be forced to try and save Miss Banner and Yiban. While they were foreigners, Nunumu could see that they did not know the goings on that General Cape had created. They were simply two people in love that wanted a better life for themselves. The setting of Changmian is also important. It is a remote little village that has not seen a lot of action. They are, in effect, a quiet town that functions normally. The arrival of these foreigners turns out to be the downfall of them. This setting is an essential part of the story as a whole.

Flashing forward to modern day Changmian, this setting is equally as important. It is still the same village, but it is also where Kwan grew up. The town, while basically destroyed by the foreigners back during the Taiping Rebellion, is shown to have recovered. It is once again quiet and somewhat insignificant. This location is a crucial part because of the caves. It is where Simon is initially lost and where Kwan disappears. This is the place that the search parties discover caves that the Hakka people may have escaped out of back in the mid to late 1800s.

The setting of Changmian, both in the flashbacks and in modern time, impacted the story greatly. It made Kwan’s stories possible, with Nunumu having to help Miss Banner and Yiban attempt to escape from the traitorous foreigners. This location is also what brought Simon and Olivia closer and what ultimately led to Kwan’s disappearance. While a different setting may not have altered the story completely, Changmian is what really made The Hundred Secret Senses as poignant a novel as it is.

Explain the main characters:

The main characters in The Hundred Secret Senses include Olivia, Kwan, and Simon. Olivia is the narrator who is going through a rough time in her life. Kwan, her older half-sister, is the one to try and change Olivia’s life, believing that fate will fix things. Simon, Olivia’s estranged husband, plays a key role in her journey to self-discovery. These three individuals have an intertwined storyline that develops throughout the novel. As they travel from California to China, all three undergo specific changes that affect themselves and each other.

There is conflict between the main characters, namely Olivia and Simon. The two, once married and in love, are separated and a divorce is pending. Olivia feels that Simon is still pining over his deceased girlfriend, Elza. While he has been open about his past relationship, Olivia cannot help but feel that Elza is everywhere in their life. This may have something to do with Kwan and her stories of ghosts. Simon, not realizing how unhappy Olivia is, continues with life as usual. One day, she tells him how depressed she is feeling with the direction their life is heading and he responds that she is just in a funk. Throughout the novel, the two have disagreements as they attempt to work out their differences. This conflict is, in fact, well on its way to being solved by the end. The two have a daughter and are trying to make things work. Although they do not live together, the events that occur throughout the novel make their relationship stronger.

There are many love relationships throughout this story. There is, of course, Simon and Olivia, as well as Kwan and her husband George. In the flashbacks, or stories that Kwan tells, there are additional love relationships, including Miss Banner and Yiban. This is a tumultuous relationship and parallels that of Olivia and Simon. Throughout the novel, there is some antagonism between characters as well. The first of this is between Olivia and Kwan- completely one-sided, of course. It began when the two first met and Olivia did not like Kwan. This odd relationship continued until the trip to China, where Olivia learned to really appreciate her sister. The antagonism that existed was resolved by the end, but the beginning of their lives as sister was full of that one-sided dislike.

These three main characters have very different personalities. Olivia is a very cynical woman who has become disappointed with where her life is leading. She feels stuck in a way and wishes that she had something more exciting to look forward to. Simon, her husband, is a somewhat oblivious man who pretends that everything is just fine. He, of course, does not see the real issues but is aware that their relationship is not perfect. Finally, Kwan is the most unique of them all. She, while naïve at times, is very optimistic and believes in the power of destiny. Her belief is that Simon and Olivia will end up together and that all will end well. She displays a very distinct personality when compared to the other two main characters.

Olivia, Simon, and Kwan are three very idiosyncratic personalities that complement and change each other. They challenge and console one another. Their relationships, both with each other and with other characters in the novel, add to the plot and make the novel what it is. Olivia slowly discovers herself along a journey that Kwan made possible, helping to save her marriage to Simon and their ultimate happiness. These characters in The Hundred Secret Senses are dissimilar and complex characters that enrich the story.

Thesis Essay:

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan is a thought-provoking novel that explores the journey of love and acceptance. This begins with Kwan and Olivia’s relationship when they first meet. Kwan, a naïve and optimistic girl, is deaf to Olivia’s sarcasm and embarrassment. She continues to tell her of the ghosts that she both sees and speaks to. The dislike in this sisterhood is completely one-sided, with Kwan’s obvious love for Olivia from the start. She takes on the role of her mother, as Olivia’s real mother is not always there for her. While she treated Olivia with nothing but love, what she received was the opposite. Olivia was mean to her and often ignored her. When she did not know what a word was, Olivia would tell her the wrong one. For example, Kwan once wanted to know the word for pear, not knowing how to say it. Her sister told her that the word for it was barf. This was only the beginning, as the two had just met shortly before this. Olivia was still a young child in school and often embarrassed by Kwan.

When the two are adults, their relationship has not changed much. Olivia talked to Kwan on the phone out of duty and attended parties as if they were mandatory. When talking about her sister, she says, “I’m not saying I don’t love Kwan…. But I often feel bad that I don’t want to be close to her” (21). She obviously wishes that she wanted to be closer to her sister but cannot find it in her heart. Olivia thinks of her relationship with Kwan as a mere requirement, but this begins to change after she and Simon break up. When thinking about Kwan and their past together, she says:

I think about Kwan, how misplaced her love for me is. I never go out of my way to do anything for her unless it’s motivated by emotional coercion on her part and guilt on mine… I never take any pleasure in simply being nice to her… I’m no better than my mother! – careless about love. I can’t believe how oblivious I’ve been to my own cruelty. (154)

This is where Olivia begins to realize that she has not treated Kwan as kindly as she should have. Kwan has been nothing but nice to her and loved her as a sister. Shortly after this revelation, she speaks to Kwan on the phone, which brings up the idea of a trip to China.

During their trip, Olivia begins to really appreciate Kwan for all that she is and does. She sees that she has been unfair throughout their time together. While she did not always believe the ghost stories, and usually thought Kwan to be insane, she is starting to believe them. Olivia remembers dreams about what Kwan talks about, but now she cannot remember if they are dreams. When Kwan talks about Miss Banner and Nunumu and their friendship, Olivia feels as though she went through the same things. The stories begin to mean more to her and she realizes that even if they aren’t true, the parallelism to their sisterhood is still there. Throughout their journey and the novel as a whole, Olivia grows to appreciate and accept Kwan.

The theme of love and acceptance is also shown through Olivia and Simon’s relationship. At the beginning, she accepted his past with his girlfriend Elza. She realized that they had to move on in order for things to work. Of course, the faults in their marriage are seen throughout their fights and the impending divorce. The one fight that is really focused on is the one where Olivia explains what is really bothering her. She feels like they are trapped and going nowhere fast, saying, “I can see where we’re headed. I don’t want to become like those people we saw in the restaurant tonight- staring at their pasta, nothing to say to each other except, ‘How’s the linguini?’ As it is, we never talk, not really” (127). This is what really shakes up their marriage and ultimately leads to the divorce becoming a possibility. Simon was oblivious to what Olivia was feeling and actually believed that she was happy. While he did not ignore her unhappiness on purpose, she definitely felt that he was patronizing her and telling her that she was just in a funk.

What really brings these two together is the trip to China and the adventures that they go on while there. During this journey, Olivia and Simon talk out their differences in another attempt to work things out. Right before Simon became lost in the caves, they were discussing what went wrong. It is obvious that both had some desire to make things work. While Olivia had been putting up a façade of being one hundred percent okay, it is revealed throughout this trip that she is not fine. After returning to California, they attempt to make their relationship work. They now have a daughter and Simon sleeps over on the weekends. Things have not returned to normal yet, but Kwan has shown Olivia how to be open to things. She has realized that people change and that she should give Simon a chance. Olivia has accepted Simon and their relationship as it is and has become dedicated to becoming a family together.

This novel shows many instances of love and approval throughout the story. These characters have learned to adapt and accept one another. Olivia is the character who can be seen changing in this way during the trip to China and her life with Kwan and Simon. Kwan taught her how to be a better person and how to live openly. Now she remembers Kwan fondly, wishing that she had more time with her. Kwan taught her that “believing in ghosts- that’s believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses” (358). The theme of love and acceptance, while only one of many messages shown in this novel, is expressed beautifully throughout Olivia’s journey in finding herself. She learned to accept not only those around her, but also herself. Amy Tan creates a fantastic picture of self-exploration and acceptance in The Hundred Secret Senses.


Amy Tan’s The Hundred Secret Senses is a beautiful novel that explores the trials of relationships, both with family members and significant others. The characters that she has created are both realistic and utterly human. They are all completely different yet somehow linked to each other. Tan’s style adds to the story, making it her own and showing how one person can change the people around them. The story of Olivia, Kwan, and Simon, while not the typical story of family, is one that pushes the boundaries of the norm and shows how people change. People can learn to open their hearts and to accept others as well as they can. The Hundred Secret Senses is a moving novel that will be remembered as a story of self-exploration and a reminder that things are not always as they seem.

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An Analysis of the Story the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The story, ‘The Joy Luck Club’ is divided into four sections, and each section with four stories inside observing the relationship between a mother and daughter. Resulting in sixteen stories in this book. This story is organized and divided in a way of how Chinese people play the game, known as mahjong. This story talks about the conflict between the Chinese mothers and their American raised daughters. There are four mothers and four daughters in this book. The characters are Suyuan Woo, Lindo Jong, Ying-ying St. Clair, An-Mei Hsu, June Woo, Waverly Jong, Lena St. Clair, and Rose Hsu.

Now here are some major themes in this story. This story focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters. The mothers are expected to listen to everything the husband says and to never challenge authority. But for the American daughters they are independent and mostly does the opposite on what the mothers do. Although the daughters and mothers’ cultures, traditions, country, are mostly different, what is not different is the relationship between each other. They are irrevocably connected.

The American dream is one of the major themes in this story. The American dreams are different generation after generation. For the mothers, it is creating a successful future with privileges, and for the daughters, it is to have freedom to do whatever they want with their opportunities and they could do whatever they want with it. The daughters are somehow disconnected with their Chinese background. And they also try their best to fit in.

The settings in this book is important that it counts as a theme. The settings shows the signs of feelings in one person. Love and marriage is also a theme in this novel. Another thing that the mothers and daughters have in common is that their marriages always ends up unhappy or bad. But marriage means different things in each generation. For the mothers, marriage means a responsibility. It is permanent and not usually based on love. They marry just because their parents wanted them to. For the daughters, marriage means marrying the person you love and being yourself. It is the time when you can feel free.

Language is an important part in this novel. As you should know, some of the characters are supposed to speak in Chinese. But no matter what language is spoken, it means a lot. Another thing the mothers and daughters have in common is that both of them believes in ghosts, spirits, and reading signs. The mothers think it’s necessary to teach the spiritual world to their daughters. The very last major theme is sacrifice and suffering. In this book, every person makes sacrifice for the ones they love, even though they have to suffer for it. Like the mothers sacrificing for their daughters.

After reading this novel, I learned more about the Chinese culture and their traditions. This story talks a lot about the Asian American cultures and the relationship between the mothers and their daughters

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Imigrants Challenges That Push Them To Seek The American Dream: The Joy Luck Club

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Thousands of immigrants arrive in America every year with the hope that a new life, a better life, awaits them. The come in search of “the American Dream,” the hope that there are higher paying jobs, quality public schools to send their children to, and a safer environment filled with opportunities and choices. Typically, immigrants make the long journey in hopes of creating a better future for their children so that they can grow up in a country where they only have to worry about earning good grades and qualifying for a decent job. The characters in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan demonstrate these American dreams by providing insight into both their difficult pasts and their hopes for their children.

In The Joy Luck Club, Tan wrote about Chinese immigrants who are mothers to American-born daughters. The book focuses on the relationships between the mothers and the daughters, who just want to fit in with the rest of their American friends. The mothers always want their children to be the most successful, and tend to boast about their daughters’ accomplishments, often exaggerating them. For example, Waverly Jong was a chess prodigy during her childhood; she won multiple championships and was even on the news. Her Chinese mother, Lindo Jong, enjoyed bragging about her daughter’s victories to anyone who would listen, and she also liked to think that she also had a part in those victories. At the end of one particular tournament, she told Waverly, “Lost eight piece this time. Last time was eleven. What I tell you? Better off lose less!” (pg. 49). By making this remark, Lindo expresses how she feels responsible for the wins and how she likes to be involved in her daughter’s life. Lindo’s pride in Waverly’s accomplishments represents “the American dream” because she clearly did not say that comment for attention, although that is what Waverly assumes. She said it because she was proud of Waverly and felt that her daughter’s successes were also her successes. Tan thus reinstates the idea that immigrant parents want many opportunities for their children and feel great pride when the children do something that they didn’t even have the opportunity to do, which is one of the many reasons why they come to America.

Another way in which The Joy Luck Club represents “ the American dream” is by discussing the fact that many of the mothers immigrated in order to escape unsafe situations or to find a safer environment. Suyuan woo, Jing Mei “June” Woo’s mother, experiences a situation of this sort. Suyuan escaped a Chinese city name Kweilin when the Japanese army began bombing and invading the city. She had to abandon all of her possessions, even her two twin babies, on the side if the road while fleeing. She eventually meets a man, gets married, and moves halfway around the world to the United States for a better life. She fled China because she wanted not only herself, but her future children as well to be in a safer environment with fewer hardships. She didn’t want them to have to experience what she went through. She also tries to get June to be a prodigy like Waverly Jong, but couldn’t succeed because June didn’t seem to be interested in any of the proposed activities, including piano. June states, “My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America” (pg. 141). This expresses Suyuan’s belief in America’s ability to give everyone a chance at a better life despite past hardships. Even though June did not become a prodigy like her mother wanted her to be, the fact that it was even possible for June to take up almost any hobby she pleased is a lot more than what China had to offer at the time. Fortunately, Suyuan was able to escape and provide a safer environment filled with possibilities for her children.

“The American dream” is the hope of many people looking for “light at the end of the tunnel.” Whether it has to do with making a fortune with a new business in the land of opportunities, or simply being satisfied with life, it will continue to attract immigrants and opportunity-seekers. As demonstrated by The Joy Luck Club, the people who come looking for “the American dream” may be leaving behind so much from their past when coming to the United States. In the book, the mothers left behind family members, their languages, and even their culture, all to make sure their children have a chance to do what they couldn’t: follow their dreams.

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Two Kinds by Amy Tan: the Relationship Between Mother and Daughter

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Amy Tan is a prolific Asian American writer who has been successful in depicting the sentiments of children of Chinese immigrants to the United States. Most of her work focused on the relationship dynamics of mothers and daughters inspired by her own conflicted experiences with her strict Chinese mother. Her bestselling novel, The Joy Luck Club, has been made into a movie adopting the same title. The short story, ‘Two Kinds’ was derived from that piece of work.

In ‘Two Kinds’, the narrator is also the protagonist as she relates her own stressful relationship with her overbearing mother. It reflects the vast difference between two generations, one that hailed from traditional Chinese upbringing and another one that has been greatly influenced by Americanized values. The title itself reveals opposite poles that seem to be the theme of the story, which often clash and result in damage in the mother-daughter relationship. The mother subscribes to her own beliefs that daughters should be obedient and blindly follow what their parents tell them to do. However, the rebellious streak of the daughter hindered her from fully obliging to all her mother’s demands. Initially, the daughter was dutiful in obeying her mother’s wish to be a prodigy, as she also wished this for herself. However, after a stark revelation that she is not the kind of prodigy her mother wanted, as demonstrated in her disastrous piano recital, she stepped back from being the dutiful daughter she was expected to be and decided to follow her own path. This inner courage she unleashed when speaking up to her mother may have come from the strong American influence on allowing children to assert their independence. She did not want to be a genius pianist as she did not believe she had what it took to be one, much to her mother’s disappointment. She said hurtful words to her mother, like opening a can of worms on painful memories from her mother’s past that were left undiscussed until that fateful confrontation. From then on, her mother stopped pushing her to fulfill the dreams she had for her daughter… which were also for herself.

The mother’s desire for her daughter to be a prodigy was deeply rooted from her own misfortunes in the past. She left China devastated, losing her whole family including her twin baby girls. She came to America in 1949 to chase the American dream which she so strongly believed in. Perhaps it was her own optimism that pushed her to dream for her own daughter, and that includes shining as a child prodigy, just like Shirley Temple. She even had her daughter’s hair cut like the child actress’ iconic hairstyle so she can somehow resemble her and perhaps, her brilliance as a child prodigy might rub off on her daughter. Although she already set foot in American soil, she maintained her Chinese values, one of which is raising a dutiful child who is expected to obey her every command. She felt the need to control her child’s life for her to be successful in achieving the American dream.

The title ‘Two Kinds’ presents deep themes of duality and opposition. The mother mentioned two kinds of daughters – “those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind!”. She decided that her daughter should be the obedient kind. The daughter refused to accept it and stubbornly held on to her decision to ‘follow her own mind’. That was when the mother finally backed down to lose the fight. She continued to be disappointed with her daughter, with all her failures in her life, however, the daughter embraced such failures as part of her own growth and development into the kind of woman she wanted herself to be and not what her mother wanted her to be. They continued living their lives following their different beliefs. Finally, on her thirtieth birthday, the mother made an effort to reconcile their differences by gifting her daughter with the piano she spent so much time and effort practicing on as an aspiring child prodigy. The daughter softened and realized her mother just wanted her to realize how much she believed in her talent. As she played the cherished piano, she found two pieces inside the piano’s bench that also reflected the theme of duality and opposition. One was “Pleading Child” and the other one was “Perfectly Contented”. These pieces were vastly different from each other in terms of tempo and mood, but they were really part of just one song. One piece represented her past life as an unhappy child resisting the pressures her mother laid down on her and the other piece reflected her present life as a woman living the life she wanted for herself. In playing these two pieces as one song, she realized that they complemented each other and the song will not be completed without the other one. That was when the daughter realized that she could not have grown to be the woman that she is, the ‘perfectly contented’ woman, without becoming the ‘pleading child’ who had to struggle for her own independence. It now made sense, and she has reconciled with her past conflicts with her mother with the music she played on her piano.

The narrator’s clear memories of her childhood experiences, especially those that included how her mother related to her brought her a better understanding of the dynamics they shared, the conflicts they struggled with in their relationship, the differences brought about by the various influences each had while growing up and how they both matured into the present to settle their differences. As she narrated the anecdotes, she expressed the same emotions she felt then as a child making her readers empathize with her agony as a child of a traditional and controlling mother. When her mother reached out to her by giving her the piano, the narrator appreciated it and understood the journey her mother also had to go through from her painful past to the time she came around to also understand her daughter. She still did not waver from her belief that her daughter was truly talented, and this time, it was not only to push her to be a prodigy but to assure her that she really has it in her but she just did not see it then. As a mother, she knew things about her child that the daughter refused to see or was still blind to see because of her own desire to be independent of her mother’s control. That was why she was so insistent that her daughter should try harder. Knowing what her mother endured in China and realizing her optimism that life will be much kinder to her American-born daughter, the narrator developed a more enlightened appreciation of her mother. It was in her adulthood that she saw that her mother’s intentions were for her own good as she did not want her to suffer the same fate she experienced in China. Holding on to the American dream, she subjected her child to what she believed was right, and that was pushing her to be the best she can be.

The narrator and her mother were indeed different from each other in terms of their personalities and beliefs. However, they did not realize that they were truly the same in hoping for a better future for themselves despite the painful past they have endured.

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Literary Analysis of Two Kinds by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Living up to parents’ standards can be hard when they contradict with your own goals and aspirations. The short story, “Two Kinds”, by Amy Tan, shows this struggle in first person narrative form, by focusing on the effects these kinds of conflicts can have on kinship relations. Jing-Mei Woo, and Mrs. Woo, a mother and daughter, had many conflicts and disputes caused by their contrasting standards of success. The verbal and physical confrontations connected with this caused permanent damage to their relationship. Both their pride and clashing personalities inhibited their ability to truly communicate. Tan uses the symbol of Shirley Temple, and the allegory of the songs “Pleading Child” and “Perfectly Contented”, to display the lasting effects that are caused by the misunderstandings of intention through lack of communication in personal relationships.

In the beginning of the story, it is made clear that there is a lot of pressure on Jing-Mei Woo to be a “prodigy” and fit the idealized image of American success. For her mother, she only saw this exhibited by Hollywood. She longed for her daughter to be a, “Chinese Shirley Temple”. By using this perception of prosperity and accomplishment, her mother thought that she was going to be able to shape Jing-Mei into it. As first-generation Chinese immigrants, their family saw success in western culture in the form of celebrities and people on TV. This heavily influenced what Mrs. Woo wanted her daughter to strive to become. At one point Jing-Mei shared this same dream when she said, “I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect: My mother and father would adore me. I would be beyond reproach. I would never feel the need to sulk, or to clamor for anything”. But often with family ideals, pressure is attached to become something you may not want to be. The conflicts became apparent when Jing-Mei started to tear away from the “prodigy” label and wanted to be her true self, regardless of the expectations her mother had. The “Shirley Temple” ideal was impractical. This root idea was where her mother and her sprouted their altercations and unhealthy energy towards each other. Her mother’s anger and forceful tactics made it difficult for them to correspond with each other and figure out each other’s intentions and true wishes.

Through the metaphorical song titles, Tan expresses how the experiences we have as children, positive and negative, stay with us, but it might not be until later in life that we see how these experiences shape us. The missing communication component lasted throughout the mother and daughter’s relationship until it strained and broke when the latter lashed out verbally to cause hurt at the deep-seated anguish of her mother’s loss of twin daughters. The song, “Pleading Child”, was one that her mother made her learn as a child on the keys, and when revisiting the piano, Jing-Mei realized that the next song after that was called “Perfectly Contented”. She came to realize that, “After she had played them both a few times, she realized they were two halves of the same song”. The allegory that is revealed in this ending statement is that their relationship had reformed. Through all the conflict and pressure and trauma, her mother’s true intention was to help her. The things she experienced in her childhood shaped her into becoming who she was as a human being.

In her short story, Tan shows how the lack of communication and misunderstanding of intention causes disconnect in family. In the beginning, Tan made the characters’ standards different; her mom wanted her to become a “Shirley Temple” and she wanted to go on with her life as who she truly was. As the story came to a close it was shown that their relationship had transformed from being disembodied and chaotic, to content. This transformation highlights the importance and need for proper communication as well as the closure it can bring with it.

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Literary Analysis Essay: Literary Devices in Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Everyone should have pride in their origins and should not be embarrassed of their nationality. Many people today do not embrace their background because they believe they do not fit in. These people must realize that self-confidence is only present after you understand your own identity. Amy Tan’s essay ‘Fish Cheeks’ explains the difficulty of deciphering where the determinant lies between fitting in and forgetting who we are by using literary elements like diction, imagery, and simile. Amy Tan’s word choice, or diction exposes the discomfort she has during the night of the dinner.

Tan writes, “A slimy rock cod with bulging fish eyes that pleaded not to be thrown into a pan of hot oil” (Tan P3). Her use of the word ‘bulging’ gives us a visual of the eyes of the fish. Instead of giving a detailed description of the eyes, she uses a singular word that allows us to visualize that the fish’s eyes were poking out. Tan also writes, “What would he think of our noisy Chinese relatives who lacked proper American manners” (Tan P2). Tan labels American manners as “proper” but describes her relatives and their Chinese customs as “noisy”. Her use of diction allows the readers to understand what she was feeling during this dinner. Sachwani 2 Tan also uses the aid of imagery to provide the reader with a more accurate depiction of the scenery of that night. But, Tan was not describing how she saw the food, but how she feared Robert would. “A plate of squid, their backs crisscrossed with knife markings so they resembled bicycle tires” (Tan P3). The use of imagery that describes ‘bicycle tires’ marked into the squids back allows the reader to visualize what the squid looked like on the dinner table. Tan’s use of imagery exemplifies her transmission of anxiety, then relief and acceptance to her audience throughout the text. Lastly, Tan uses simile to compare two unlike things using the words “like”, or “as”. When she was first describing the minister’s son, she lets us know that they are not of the same background. Tan writes, “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger” (Tan P1). Tan’s description of Robert compares him to Virgin Mary.

She also makes the connection between to how pure Mary is to the boy. Tan uses this rhetoric strategy to persuade her audience by drawing them in and having them make connections they can easily relate to. Amy draws her readers in by reminding them of their crushes and how they would view them at the time. Most people tend to view their crushes to be perfect with no flaws, which in this case, to be pure. Amy Tan’s use of simile allows her to compare two completely different things very closely. Despite all of the hardships people go through, we must all understand that you cannot forget your origin and where you come from. At first, Amy feels shame over the differences between her family and Robert’s family. However, after her mother’s lesson, she discovered that rather than allowing others’ responses to lead her to shame, she should be proud of her different heritage and culture.

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