Even though Tan and Orwell have two different approaches to showing a struggle to fit into society, they are actually in agreement that people who come from different places struggle to fit. This common ground becomes apparent through the emotion behind each authors’ writing. In both Tan and Orwell’s writing they show a variety of feelings. These feelings consist of sadness, anger and bitterness.
The first illustration of both authors’ accord is the way each of them express sadness from the way they are treated by those around them. It is especially evident that Tan is saddened by the fact that her mother is poorly treated due to her broken English. Tan states “But they seem just as bad, as if everything is limited, including people’s perceptions of the limited English speaker” (179).
This demonstrates the sadness Tan feels for her mother and the difficulty her mother faces to fit into society, bearing in mind it is nearly impossible to fit in with others if their perceptions are skewed. Orwell faces a similar issue throughout his essay as well. The natives of Burma were extraordinarily boorish towards Orwell simply because he was from England.
Orwell shows an example of this by opening his writing with “In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me” (229). Hatred from all of Burma for no good reason causes sadness upon Orwell, especially when all he wants is to fit in and not be ridiculed. Evidently when the society one lives in is not accepting of them it becomes a struggle to fit it.
Tan and Orwell also display strong feelings of anger in their writings. As Tan continues to write, a change in tone is evident. She starts off placid and calm then progresses to a more aggressive angry tone. An example of this is when Tan complains “And when the doctor finally called her daughter, me, who spoke in perfect English –lo and behold – we had assurances the CAT scan would be found, promises that a conference call on Monday would be held, and apologies for any suffering my mother had gone through for a most regrettable mistake” (180).
The above quote demonstrates a sarcastic tone which signifies the author is fed up, annoyed, and even angry. Orwell communicates angers from the very start of his writing when he tells of a time he was tripped on the football field. A Burman man purposely tripped Orwell in front of the crowed and they all laughed at him, which irritated him and made him mad. Anger is a very strong emotion in which both authors’ express due to frustration from not fitting into society. An even worse emotion compared to anger is bitterness.
Bitterness is a vile, putrid feeling. It shows that you have let something get the best of you. Each author displays bitterness in some form or another. Orwell shot an elephant for the sheer fact that he did not want to seem like a fool. If he was not bitter toward the Burmans he would not have allowed them to get the best of him. As far a Tan goes, she says “people in department stores, at banks, and at restaurants did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her” (180).
Tan’s bitterness for the disrespect her mother receives from multiple different people helps her to express her mother’s struggle to fit into society. With everything these two different authors’ have in common its clear they both agree that people from different places struggle to fit in. People from all different cultures and societies struggle to fit in when they go somewhere new. Both authors do a wonderful job at expressing these challenges. They each show as an individual their own personal experiences with struggling to fit into society.
Their imagery and emotions make it easy to visualize being in their shoes struggling to overcome the challenges of fitting into society. It is perfectly clear that both author agree upon outsiders struggling to fit into a new society.
Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant.” Fields of Reading: Motives for Writing. Ed. Nancy R. Comley, et.al. 10th edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2013. 129-134. Print. Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.” Fields of Reading: Motives for Writing. Ed. Nancy R. Comley, et.al. 10th edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2013. 178-182. Print.
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