Amy Tan is a Chinese American author who is known for her novel The Joy Luck Club and her short story “Fish Cheeks.” In “Fish Cheeks,” Amy tells the story of how she was embarrassed as a child when her family had a dinner party and she realized that the guests could see her “chubby cheeked” reflection in the spoon.
She was so embarrassed that she wanted to hide under the table. However, Amy’s mother told her that she was beautiful and that she should be proud of her heritage. Amy’s embarrassment turned to pride and she has since come to appreciate her Chinese heritage.
Amy Tan shows insecurity and overacting in “Fish Cheeks.” She is extremely insecure about her Chinese heritage, as shown by several parts of the text. She has a crush on Robert, a white boy who she describes as “not Chinese but as white as Mary in the manger.” Almost comparing him to Mary, a holy figure, might imply an idealization of Robert because to his race.
Amy even goes as far as to say that if Robert “were Chinese, I would not be so tongue-tied” around him. Amy’s insecurity about her race is also seen when she talks about the dinner table. She notes that her mother had gone “all out” for the Christmas Eve dinner, making Amy’s favorite dishes.
Amy is embarrassed by these dishes because they are distinctly Chinese, and she is worried that Robert will think they are weird. She is so ashamed of her culture that she even wishes she could disappear under the table. In the end, Amy has a sudden change of heart. She realizes that she should be proud of her culture, and that she doesn’t need to be ashamed of her Chinese identity.
She comes to this realization when she sees how much her mother has sacrificed for her, and she decides that she will no longer be embarrassed by her culture. Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” is a coming-of-age story that deals with the theme of racial identity. Amy learns to be proud of her Chinese heritage, and she learns that she doesn’t need to try to be someone she’s not.
Amy also desires a nose that appears to be more American, reinforcing her view that Americans are superior to Chinese people, which is a reflection of her insecurity. Her insecurities even cause her to question her own culture. When she sees her mother prepare supper, she thinks her mother has “outdone herself” with the choice of cuisine, and the food as strange and even somewhat frightening.
Amy’s emotions toward her mother are further revealed when she states that if people found out that Amy’s mother had cooked the food, Amy would be “embarrassed beyond words.” Amy is clearly ashamed of her culture and wishes to distance herself from it.
She is so insecure about her Chinese identity that she even dreams of looking like Marilyn Monroe, an American actress who was famous for her blonde hair and hourglass figure. In reality, Amy knows that she will never look like Marilyn Monroe because she is Chinese.
However, Amy’s insecurities eventually disappear when Robert comes over for dinner and compliments Amy’s mother’s cooking. Robert makes Amy realize that she should not be ashamed of her culture and that she should be proud of her Chinese heritage. Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” is a short story about a young girl who learns to accept her own culture and appreciate it for what it is.
Amy begins the story with feelings of insecurity and shame about her Chinese identity, but she eventually learns to accept herself for who she is. The story teaches its readers an important lesson about self-acceptance and pride in one’s culture. Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” is a heartwarming story that will resonate with many readers.
“Amy’s favorite foods are “disgusting,” the fish is “slippery” and has “bulging eyes” that were “pleading.” The tofu appears to be a stack of rubbery white sponge wedges, the fungus is returning, and the squid resembles bicycle tires. All of these characterizations are quite unusual and dramatic, considering that they all appear to be Amy’s favorite meals.
Amy’s perspective changes when her friends come over for dinner and she is embarrassed by the food her mother has prepared. Amy is ashamed of her Chinese heritage and wants to fit in with her American peers, going as far as to pray that her “face would turn white”. Amy’s mother is proud of her culture and wants Amy to be as well, but Amy is only interested in what her friends think of her. In the end, Amy comes to appreciate her mother’s cooking and realizes that she should be proud of her heritage.
In the following passage, when food is described, Amy Tan expresses shame for her own culture since she feels that what she should be accustomed to is strange. During Christmas dinner at Robert’s house, another example of her fear of being judged by others regarding her native country is her discomfort with anything done by her family during the meal that is Chinese.
Amy’s mother had gone all out to make an authentic Chinese meal, but Amy is horrified, feeling that her family will be made fun of for their differences. Amy’s insecurity is also seen when she tells her mother that she does not want to wear her Chinese dress to the Christmas dinner.
Amy says, “I wanted to disappear” (30). She is ashamed of her culture and does not want anyone to know that she is different. The passage where Amy talks about wanting to Disappear shows how Amy uses American culture as a standard for what is normal, and because she and her family are not American, they are abnormal to her.
This ultimately leads to Amy being ashamed of her own culture and wanting to assimilate into American culture as much as possible. Amy’s assimilation is also seen in her relationship with Robert. Amy is attracted to Robert because he is American and she wants to be like him. She says, “I loved his long limbs, the way he smelled of tennis and preppiness” (30). Amy is attracted to Robert because he represents everything that she wants to be: American.
Amy Tan’s short story “Fish Cheeks” reveals the extent to which Amy Tan was ashamed of her own culture and wanted to assimilate into American culture. Through her descriptions of the food, her embarrassment at her family’s actions, and her attraction to Robert, Amy Tan reveals her insecurity in her own culture and desire to be something else.