Joe Louis and Fish Cheeks Essay Example
Joe Louis and Fish Cheeks Essay Example

Joe Louis and Fish Cheeks Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Belonging to a nationality other than that of a dominant country can often lead to feelings of alienation, uniqueness, or discrimination. This theme is vividly illustrated in Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” where she narrates a boxing match between Joe Louis and Carnera. The significance of the match was immense as its outcome would decide if blacks would remain subservient to whites. Likewise, Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” recounts her experience at the age of fourteen during a Christmas celebration, when her crush and his father were guests at their home. Overwhelmed by embarrassment, she felt disconnected from her family, their food, and Chinese traditions.

Both narratives refer to ethnic groups feeling less worthy compared to the white race. Although they share similar themes, the two tales are delivered from contrasting standpoints with varying viewpoints


. They also utilize divergent narrative techniques, resulting in one piece being more impactful than the other. Literary tools are linguistic strategies employed by authors to communicate effectively and to stimulate vivid mental images in readers' minds as they navigate through the narrative. The application of these varied literary mechanisms evokes distinct responses and sets unique tones.

For instance, through her choice of tone, Angelou narrates, “Women frantically held onto the infants on their laps while the previous porch activities of a few minutes before, such as shuffling, smiling, flirting, and pinching, had disappeared. This might signify the apocalypse” (17). She employs a solemn tone to express that the result is notably significant to the black community and is entirely a critical matter to them. Additionally, she infuses irony, stating, “Those who resided too remotely had prearrange

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

to stay in the city.

The narrative suggests it wouldn't be safe for a black man along with his family to be found unguarded on an isolated street on the night that Joe Louis demonstrated our people to be the mightiest worldwide" (28). The ironic element is present in the concluding section of "Champion of the World," as African Americans should have been expressing radiating pride from Joe Louis's victory, instead, they shrink back in fear of white individuals who may harbor anger towards the result. Angelou added that if Joe Louis emerged victorious, racial subordination would not prevail. Nonetheless, this paragraph contrasts that idea, portraying the persisting subjugation irrespective of the fight's outcome.

The narrative's serious undertone is linked to the concept that the liberation of blacks is not as straightforward as securing a victory in a boxing bout. Angelou also employs similes to depict the merriment, citing that "People consumed Coca-Colas as if it were ambrosia and indulged in candy bars as if it were Christmas" (27). These two comparisons dramatically embellish their actions, indicating opulent celebration. The entire paragraph relies on Angelou's vivid illustration of the setting, "Champion of the world. A Black boy. Some Black mother's son. He was the most formidable man in the world.

Individuals consumed coca-colas as if they were nectar of the gods and indulged in chocolate bars as though they were festive treats. Some of the males disappeared behind the store and spiked their juice drinks with an illicit hooch, attracting the attention of larger, bolder boys who imitated them. Those that weren't reviled or turned away strutted back flaunting their tipsy breaths

like proud nicotine enthusiasts” (27). The narrative style of the author is depicted here through the usage of concise, forthright sentences to illustrate the significant changes that followed the match. It's as though she is painstakingly surveying her uncle's store, meticulously noting every activity while mentally capturing the entire scenario.

The explanation she gives is heavily reliant on verbs to delineate their actions. In addition, Angelou enhances the suspense in the story by including the radio commentator's conversation. He says, “'... Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the referee is signaling but the contender continues to lash out at Louis. Another shot to the body, and it seems Louis is about to fall. '” (15). This inclusion of his conversation serves as an effective method to heighten suspense as they were not physically present to witness the match.

The individuals in Angelou's uncle's shop appear to hinge on a solitary radio presenter, creating tension through the unpredictability of the current scenario. The array of literary techniques Angelou deploys significantly adds depth and intrigue to the narrative. In contrast, Amy Tan's "Fish Cheeks" displays a lighter approach compared to Angelou's story, employing different writing styles and tones. However, it echoes similar sentiments where a 14-year-old Amy feels less worthy or subordinate to Americans, resonating with the feelings experienced by the black community under their control.

Tan displays a tone of innocence and complaining, "My tears fell when I realized my parents had summoned the pastor's family for Christmas Eve supper... How significant a letdown would he experience upon discovering no roasted turkey and sweet potatoes, but Chinese cuisine?" (2). This evokes laughter as a young

girl anxiously anticipates the arrival of her romantic interest on Christmas, fretting over his potential reaction to her family's Chinese customs.

Opting for this tone, Tan was motivated by the fact that she was a mere fourteen-year-old whose essay originally featured in Seventeen, a periodical catering to adolescent girls. This tone serves as a bridge, linking these young female readers to Tan in a challenging setting involving their crush they might struggle to deal with. Moreover, she employs vivid depiction, expressing her sentiments towards the food items. She remarked, "The kitchen looked more like a dumping ground for surprisingly large quantities of uncooked food: A slippery rock cod with bulging eyes crying not to be tossed into a frying pan".

Tofu, appearing as a pile of soft white rubbery cubes” (3). Such depictions of Chinese cuisine further highlight Amy's plaintive nature, because if Robert was not visiting, she would enjoy these meals. However, the impending visit makes her feel self-conscious about her cuisine. Angelou employs more engaging and compelling literary techniques than Tan, and considering that Angelou’s narrative sheds light on a significant historical issue while Tan’s story is relatively less serious in nature, Angelou's "Champion of the World" is deemed more impactful.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds