Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan Essay

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1. Because she is afraid of what Robert would say about her family and what, to her opinion, are the strange ways and manners of her family members. She is ashamed that Robert will find out how weird her Chinese family and relatives act and disappointed at their Chinese version of a Christmas dinner.

2. The mother is proud of her Chinese heritage and she wants to share it with her guests. As to her daughter, the dinner is meant to teach her a lesson, to make her understand that people do not have to act like everyone else in order to be accepted and have a reason to be proud. It is okay to be different and pride comes from one’s self not attributed by others to the person. This lesson can be summed up in the words of Amy’s mother: “Your only shame is to have shame.”

3. She is ashamed of her Chinese background having grown-up in America with her American friends and classmates. Probably she has been doing her best to hide her being Chinese in order to fit in with her American friends. She is equally ashamed of her mother because of the latter’s pride and insistence in keeping old Chinese traditions in spite of the fact that the family are already in a different country.

4. The story in the essay is entertaining by itself. However, Tan’s experience aims to impart to the readers, especially those who belong to a family whose culture is way different to the culture of the society where they now live, that to be different should not be a cause for embarrassment. One should not be ashamed of who he really is inside. Also, no culture should be above another. The feeling of shame is something personal not stemming from public perception. If one accepts one’s self and become proud of his own identity, then others will accept him and try to understand.

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