Amy Tan and Maya Angelou come from extremely different cultures, and trying to feel accepted in American Culture. Both authors discuss a feeling of being an outcast and how their cultural differences set them apart. However, Amy Tan effectively uses narration and description to depict her sense of isolation from the dominant American culture.
Angelou’s story is set in the South during the 1930’s when racism was prominent in society and an acceptable practice. Angelou’s writing mostly describes the reaction of the audience as they listen to the boxing match. She does not describe in detail on how this fight affects her or what it means to those around her. Her writing gives the reader a sense of excitement and nervousness, but it does not depict her sense of isolation from the dominant culture.
Tan’s story takes place in California during the 1960’s. She feels embarrassed about her Chinese culture when she is faced with having a boy she likes and his family over for Christmas dinner. Tan describes in vivid detail her differences and embarrassment that she feels about being different from the Anglo culture. Tan more effectively describes her own isolation from social norms than Angelou. She describes her feeling and reactions to everything leading up to, during and after the Christmas dinner.
Tan’s descriptive detail of her feelings throughout the evening effectively portrays her feelings of isolation and being different from the dominant American culture. The reader feels her humiliation and despair. This is evident when she describes the foods she loves in disgust and how she worries about her family’s manners at the dinner table. Angelou describes the emotions of the people around her and does not focus on her own feelings. Her focus is on the crowd’s emotions during the fight and their celebration following the win. The reader does not feel the same sense of isolation that Tan portrays.
Angelo’s story describes the thoughts and feelings of her community during a boxing match. However, she does not focus on her own sense of isolation from the dominant American culture. Tan’s story describes her embarrassment and fear of humiliation because she is different from her peer. She desperately wants to fit into the dominant American culture and is embarrassed by everything her culture and family represents during the Christmas
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