You want to be the same as the American girls on the outside You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame (Tan 353). In Amy Tans essay Fish cheeks she just wants to be like everyone else. Her mother tells her she can change how she dresses But inside you will always be Chinese(Tan 353). Her mother invites her crushes family over for Christmas Eve dinner. On that particular Christmas Eve Amy Tan experiences a flood of feelings from nervousness, to embarrassment to eventual shame.
Before the guests arrive, Amy is feeling very nervous although she has a huge crush on Robert, having his family over for Christmas Eve dinner was not exactly her idea. For example we read in the story the winter I turned fourteen for Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose. When I found out my parents had invited thefamily over for Christmas Eve dinner, I cried (Tan 353).Clearly Amy is insecure. This also reveals that Amy would like to look more American. Another example of Amys nervousness can be seen in her worry about what Robert will think about her familys Chinese traditions. What would Robert think of our shabby Chinese Christmas?our noisy Chinese relatives who lack proper American manners?not a roasted turkey but Chinese food?(Tan 353).Obviously, Amy herself, is insecure and afraid that she will be embarrassed by her family.
During the dinner Amy is embarrassed on more than one occasion. For example, it all starts when Amys Mom brings out the fish. Robert grimaced my father poked his chopsticks just below the fish eye and plucked out the soft meat Amy, your favorite. He said, offering me the tender fish cheek. I wanted to disappear (Tan 353). This shows that Amy was embarrassed because Robert thought it was gross and that her father shared everyone that she like to eat fish cheeks. This also shows that Amy wanted Robert to think that she didnt like it either. Another example of Amys embarrassment during dinner happens when Amys father let out a giant burp. At the end of the meal my father leaned back and belched loudly Its a polite Chinese custom to show you are satisfied, explained my father to our astonished guests. Robert was looking down at his plate with a reddened face. I was stunned into silence for the rest of the night (Tan 353). This passage illustrates that Amy was not too happy with her fathers belching in front of her friend and his family. The wording by the author that she was stunned into silence shows that she wishes the evening could have ended immediately. As a result of the events that took place at dinner, Amy feels humiliated by her family.
After Roberts family leaves and years later Amy feels ashamed about how she acted on Christmas Eve. For example, Amy realizes her Mom switched the Christmas Eve menu to all of Amys favorite foods which were not easy to make. My mother had outdone herself in creating a strange menu. She was pulling black veins out of the black prawns. The kitchen was littered with appalling mounds of raw food (Tan 353). This shows that Amy is ashamed of herself because her mother was making all of her favorite dishes. This also reveals that she feels shame because she knows how much work went into preparing those dishes that she acted like she didnt like. Another example that I think Amy felt ashamed of years later is when her father offered her the fish cheek. Amy, your favorite, is what he said to her and she acted as if she didnt like it. She was embarrassed at the time, but he was just trying to be nice. I think she feels ashamed that she was not grateful to him. As a result of her behavior, Amy feels guilty about how she acted at dinner Christmas Eve.
In conclusion, Amy went through a lot of emotions on Christmas Eve dinner. Amy learned that she could dress and act different on the outside, but will always be Chinese on the inside. The lesson readers can learn from this essay is that you can look different on the outside, but on the inside you need to be proud of where you came from and who you are. As a result of that Christmas Eve dinner Amy learned a life long lesson.
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