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The Message of The "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 5 (1073 words)
Categories: Biography, Book Review
Downloads: 47
Views: 14

In this research paper, I will be writing about Amy Tan’s achievements and her life whenshe was growing in the United States. I will also be discussing one of her particular articleswhich is “Mother Tongue”. I will be talking about the message of the article “Mother Tongue”and the intended meaning to the audience. The American-Chinese writer wrote this article in 1990. Tan mostly talks about her relationship with her mother and the impact her mother had onher life.

According to Biography.com, Amy Tan was born on February 19, 1952, in Oakland, California. Both her parents immigrated from China. When Amy was fifteen years old, her fatherand her older brother died from brain tumors within a year. After Tan’s father and older brotherpassed away, she moved to Europe with the rest of the family to acquire her high schooldiploma. When she graduated high school from ​Montreux, Switzerland, she came back to theUnited States for college.

She attended Linfield College in Oregon, San Jose City College, SanJose State University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and the University of Californiaat Berkeley. When she completed her college, she worked as an English adviser and also workedas a writing helper.

In 1974, Amy Tan married her boyfriend, Louis DeMattei. After beingtogether for 11 years, she wrote the story “Rules of the Game” for her writing workshop to startthe book Joy Luck Club. In 1989, Tan published the book the “Joy Luck Club”. This book is themost popular fiction workbook from the rest of her books. According to Wikipedia, this bookexplores between Chinese women and Chinese-America. “I ​t focuses on four Chinese Americanimmigrant families in San Francisco who start a club known as The Joy Luck Club, playing theChinese game of mahjong for money while feasting on a variety of foods.” ​After they agreed tomeet to play Mahjong, they decided to divide it into four sections to make sixteen chapters. Unfortunately, before the novel opens, one of the mothers died unexpectedly. But they did notgive up after this tragedy happened. They put efforts into it and it became a commerciallysuccessful film.

Amy Tan has written several books including the hundred secret senses, thekitchen god’s wife, and bonesetter’s daughter, etc. ​Tan also wrote the essay “Mother Tongue” ayear later when she published the Joy Luck Club book. In this essay, Amy Tan talks about howlanguage influenced her life while growing up with her mother.“Mother Tongue,” is one of the essays written by Amy Tan. Her story tells about Tan andthe relationship she had with her mother. Amy tan is the person who loves to write and readevery single day. In the article “Mother Tongue,” Tan demonstrates that language has power inthe way we express our perspective in different modes. Amy grew up with different types of English. Tan states that she spoke both broken English and standard English with her mother andwith others respectively. Even though her mother had “ limited English,” Tan was always ableto know what her mother said.

No matter what other people said about Tan’s mother’s English,she defends her by saying “But to me, my mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectlynatural”(396). She never had a difficult time to understand her mother’s English. I love the wayshe expressed her Mother’s Tongue because Mother Tongue is the first language we learned tospeak and it is clear and vivid. Amy Tan believes that language is one of the basic tools forexpressing our feelings, emotions, and thoughts. She writes about her experiences by saying, “It’s my mother tongue. Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation andimagery. That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things …”(396). Tan respects her Mother’s Tongue because it causes her to become a better writer andmakes her see herself. She was also able to turn this to something special.Based on Proquest.com, in the essay, “‘Broken English’: people are more than their outerappearances”, Phiengchai Sisouvanh talks about the essay “Mother Tongue” and that Amy Tanpoints out the discrimination her Chinese mother was facing because Tan’s mother did not speakEnglish fluently. Sisouvanh believes that many people treat Amy Tan’s mother unjustly.

A lot of American people consider immigrants as untaught and mindless people. Most of the Americanpeople just see their ethnicity, language, religion, and other differences instead of seeing theirhumanity. Nevertheless, Sisouvanh explains that Amy Tan acts opposite of those societies. Sheregards you as an educated and knowledgeable person no matter where you come from. He alsostates that Tan’s mother “broken English” helps her to have new perceptions and she believesthat her mother’s language is clear vivid, and imagery. Sisouvanh finds that he had a similarexperience with Amy Tan. When he immigrated with his family, they faced limitedopportunities because of their limited English like Tan’s mother. He had to translate from hisfamily to the speakers of the family because he was the first child who could get a formaleducation in the family. However, he believes that the language he speaks at home is veryhelpful and makes sense.

He demonstrated in the article by saying, “It opened my eyes tounderstanding those with limited English-speaking proficiency.” He talks that his first languagewas the base that he could see the world and express things which have a similar situation withAmy Tan. In general, “Mother Tongue,” shows how the language influenced Amy Tan’s life. Bothof the authors wrote that Mother Tongue is the language they speak for the first time and it isvivid and clear. Amy Tan and Phiengchai Sisouvanh mentioned that people were treatedindignity to Tan’s mother because of her limited English. People can ignore you in the way youspeak English which is not necessary.In conclusion, Amy Tan became a good writer after all the situations she faced. She hasnever been in despair with her challenges. She always looks at a positive path and respects hermother’s language no matter what people say about it. She has published a lot of books, novels,and essays. The essay, “Mother Tongue.” was written by her. People commented that her essay“Mother’s Tongue” is the common situations in most immigrants family and they connected thiswith their experience.

Work Cited:

Tan, Amy, “Mother Tongue,” Seagull Reader: Essays, Ed. Joseph Kelly.Norton, 2016. 394-400. Biography.com Editors. “Amy Tan Biography.” The Biography.com website. A&E Television

Networks. April 2, 2014. ​https://www.biography.com/people/amy-tan-9542574Sisouvanh, Phiengchai. “‘Broken English’: People are more than their outer appearances.”Proquest.com. International Examiner. Jan 4-Jan 17,2017.

Amy Tan. “ The Joy Luck Club.” Wikipedia.com. G.P. Putnam’s sons. 1989.​https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Amy_Tan&oldid=890789841 ​.

Cite this essay

The Message of The “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan. (2020, Sep 10). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-message-of-the-mother-tongue-by-amy-tan-essay

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