In Amy Tan’s essay “Mother Tongue”, the author’s firm belief that a lack of strong language skills causes a deficit of power in society is shown through her use of rhetorical devices. The essay focuses on the experiences of Tan’s mother, a Chinese immigrant, facing challenges due to her poor English skills. Because of her mother’s lack of perfect English, Amy Tan, now an avid writer, tells of how she was affected. By utilizing contrast in the essay, Amy Tan depicts that spoken language can alter how much power other’s view us as having. Additionally, Amy Tan depicts through anecdotes involving her mother that a lack of perfect English results in limitations on the ability to effectively assert power over others.
Amy Tan’s use of contrast in…show more content… By putting two paragraphs with varying ideas on her mother’s intelligence near each other, Tan utilizes contrast. Speaking of her mother, Amy Tan says that she understands more English and is more intelligent than one would infer from her so called fractured English. In order to back this statement up, Tan writes that her mother “reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker, reads all of Shirley MacLaine's books with ease”. All of these kinds of things, the author recognizes, she herself cannot begin to comprehend. Following this praise of her mother’s knowledge, Amy Tan switched gears to explain how outside sources view her mother’s intelligence and understanding. Mrs. Tan had believed she was being cheated of her money by her stockbroker in New York and was anxious to find answers on the whereabouts of her money. Deciding that someone with perfect English would put up a facade of greater power and intelligence, Amy Tan’s mother had her call. Because of her limited English skills, Amy Tan’s mother had less power in the business world. Her lack of influence in the business world was a direct result of the mother’s less than stellar English language skills. Likewise, Amy Tan repeats the use of contrast in her essay when she describes her own use of the