Lessons in Life: Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan and Museum by Naomi Shihab Nye

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Lessons in Life: Fish Cheeks By Amy Tan And Museum By Naomi Shihab Nye

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Message and Purpose in Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan
  • Nye's Purpose in Her Essay Museum
  • Comparison


"Fish Cheeks" by Amy Tan and "Museum" by Naomi Shihab Nye written by two authors experiences in their teenage years. Both stories tell about teenage feelings of embarrassment. The main characters in both stories experience different circumstances but indeed similar feelings. The two stories are similar in the way both authors experienced embarrassing emotions, and both authors learned a great lesson in life. The two stories are different but have similar lessons that are learned in life. Both stories are about teenage girls experiencing their feelings of embarrassment and learning from their mistakes.

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The Message and Purpose in Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan

In the story "Fish Cheeks" this is about a young 14-year old Chinese American girl. The young Chinese American girl has parents who were born in China and practice their Chinese culture and heritage. Their young Chinese daughter has a crush on an American boy. The parents of the young Chinese girl decided to invite an American family with the boy that the girl has a crush on. The invite takes place on Christmas Eve with a traditional Chinese food. The type and amount of food that was prepared was "appalling mounds of raw food" (Tan 75). The young girl's mother had gone overboard to present her cultural tradition of foods on Christmas Eve. She was also preparing these foods to show love to her daughter. Many of the food prepared were her daughters favorites. Tan's ‘experience of being embarrassed is her worst nightmare. She feels emotional hurt because of what other people think about her unique heritage. She does not realize in her teenage years the importance of who and where she came from. "Her father pokes his chopsticks at the dinner table into the whole steam fish just below the fish's eye and takes a piece of the soft cheek meat. He then says, " Amy your favorite" (Tan 75). Tan is so mortified by her father's actions and words. She wants to vanish and cry. Her mother displays a big lesson to her at the conclusion of the story. She presents Tan with a gift for Christmas after all the guests were gone. Tan 's mother says," You want to be the same as American girls on the outside"(Tan). Her mother gives her a mini skirt Tad's mother explains to her that inside "you must always be Chinese" (Tan 76). She describes to her daughter that being unique and different is the most important lesson in life. When you are proud of who and where you came from, your lessons are learned. "Your only shame is to have shame"( Tan 75).

Many years passed, when Amy finally realized the lesson in life her mother taught her on that Christmas Eve. of what her heritage and culture stood for. She was now a proud woman of her unique Heritage and Culture. Never again would she be embarrassed of who, what, and where she came from. Accepting who she was and feeling proud of her heritage and culture was now in her heart forever. A true lesson learned that will be with her throughout her life. Embarrassing moments will never be again for Tan!

Nye's Purpose in Her Essay Museum

On the other hand, in the story "Museum" the author Nye tells a story of two teenage girls taking a ride and visiting a Museum. Sally is the girlfriend of the author, Naomi. This museum was once an old historical mansion that latter was turned into a Museum. The girls did not have the address of the Museum, but the main character Naomi told her friend Sally that she would recognize the Museum because she had read an article in magazine. There was a picture in the article with information about the Museum. Sally claims that she would recognize the Museum. They find a house that looks like the picture of the museum in the article. The two girls who are young teenagers enter a house thinking this is the museum. The only problem is they did not realize they were in the wrong place. As they entered the house, people were in the living area siting and chatting. They stopped talking and looked at the girls strangely when thy entered the home. Each girl decided to go in different directions. This was a private home they were rummaging through. Suddenly a man came behind Naomi and he was standing right next to her. He said, "Where do you think you are ?" She said, The Mc Nay Art museum!" He told me that I was in the wrong place. " He said. "Well, we thought this was our home" (NYE). Nye became so embarrassed. The feeling of intruding into someone's private home was the most embarrassing moment of her life. Making that big of a mistake stayed with her for many years. Naomi yelled for Sally to come down at once. Nye felt so embarrassed in such an awkward situation. Sally finally comes downstairs to question what ‘s wrong. Naomi does not have the heart to tell Sally, the news of entering the wrong place. Naomi had made a big mistake because she took it for granted that this was the right place. The people who lived in the house were sitting right there wondering why two teenage girls walked into their home.


The two essays are similar in the way both authors experienced embarrassing times and lessons were learned from their mistakes. In the story "Museum." Nye exposed her feelings of embarrassment by making an honest mistake. Both stories were equal in structure. Mistakes made in their teenage years were honest decisions. When a person makes honest mistakes, and he or she learns a lesson. That is a great experience result in life. Learning from our mistakes is all that matters. When we are young, we gain from our experiences in life. Our mistakes help us learn as we grow older. We become wiser and mature with all of life's experiences. Mistakes they made as teenagers taught the characters to appreciate who, where, and why mistakes were made. A great lesson in life was pass on in both stories.

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