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Fish Cheeks

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 711
  • Category: Emotions

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In Amy Tan’s Fish Cheeks, published in a 1987 issue of Seventeen Magazine, Tan wishes to let her audience know that it is okay to want to be different, but always hold on to who you were before as well. Ms. Tan drew in the audience by beginning her story with the common line about love. She made things interesting by tell us that her crush was set to join her at Christmas Eve. She went on to explain that her Chinese cultural family was an embarrassment to her. When her crush got to her house, she avoided him and anyway that she could embarrass herself. It didn’t take long for her family to step right up and embarrass her however. Soon after dinner, the minister and his family left and Tan was given a gift by her mother. Her mother warned her that it is okay to want to look different, thus the gift of a mini skirt, but her mother also warned her that she should never be ashamed of where she came from.


Dramatic; Humorous; Hyperbolistic; Reflective


Narration; Description

Rhetorical Terms

Rhetorical question – “What would Robert think of our shabby Chinese Christmas? What would he think of our noisy Chinese relatives who lacked proper American manners?” (p. 2) Dash – “And then they arrived – the minister’s family and all my relatives in a clamor of doorbells and rumpled Christmas packages.” (p. 4) Simile – “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger.” (p. 1) Parable – The entire story

Personification – “The kitchen was littered with appalling mounds of raw food: A slimy rock cod with bulging eyes that pleaded not to be thrown into a pan of hot oil.” (p. 3)

Meaning #1 – Why does Tan cry when she finds out that the boy she is in love with is coming to dinner? Tan cries when she finds out that the minister’s son was coming to Christmas Eve dinner because Tan was embarrassed about her family traditions and didn’t want her crush to see all of her embarrassing traditions.

Strategy #3 – What is the IRONY of the last sentence of the essay? The last sentence is ironic because Tan had been so embarrassed about everything her family was doing and cooking, she didn’t even stop to realize that all that they were cooking were her favorite dishes. She would’ve never admitted it at the time, but those were all of her favorites.

Language #3 – In which paragraph does Tan use strong verbs most effectively? Tan uses strong verbs in paragraph 5 to add to the effect of her family. All the verbs help to add the disgust to the paragraph by helping to describe the effect that Tans family was having on their guests.

Vocab: Prawns – any of various widely distributed edible decapod crustaceans


“You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame.”


This quote means a lot to me because as a Mexican growing up in America, I always aspired to be more American than Mexican. I have refused to learn Spanish, have minimal contact with my Mexican family, and I often stay inside in order to keep my skin from tanning. I am a horrible Mexican American. But because of this, I am so far into my life that it, to me, seems too late to start. I have recently been realizing that my heritage does have an effect on my life, work, school, and college wise. After the world cup, I also began to think about my other half, my German half, which really angered my mother because I was so much more interested in being German than Mexican. I am so much more interested in being white, partially because I know it will get me further in life and partially because I am ashamed to be associated with my Mexican heritage. The mother in this story advocates that it is shameful to have shame, and I know that, but I can’t help but want to refuse myself and all that my family as given me in way of genetics.

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