Meals By Amy Tan Quotes And Analysis

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Shame, in Amy Tan’s situation, comes from her fear of being different, and her nervousness about how Robert will think of her and her unusual culture. After the meal, Amy’s mom tells her her “only shame is to have shame,” implying that Amy shouldn’t be ashamed of herself, and if she is, then she should be ashamed, since being different isn’t a bad thing. Amy finds herself ashamed of how different she is, though her parents view the Chinese culture as normal and think it makes their daughter unique. Despite the way her parents embrace the culture, Amy cannot overlook how different she is from what in her mind is the normal American girl. With the news that her parents had invited over the minister’s family for Christmas Eve dinner, Amy finds…show more content…
Throughout the meal, Amy’s nervousness about Robert changes her judgement of the food to the point where she views the tofu as “stacked wedges of rubbery white sponges.” This comparison of food to something so inedible conveys Amy’s disapproval of not just the food, but her culture, of which this food is traditional. When her father offers her her favorite food, which at the moment is completely repulsive to her, Amy gets even more embarrassed, thinking about how disgusting her favorite foods are and how the guests will now think that she actually likes this food. Amy’s use of hyperbole when saying that she “wanted to disappear,” and her repeated expression of embarrassment displays her inability to accept and take pride in her culture, and rather her wish to conform with the American culture. Amy not only expresses her embarrassment of the food, but also goes into detail about her relatives’ manners. Tan compares the way her relatives “licked the ends of their chopsticks and reached across the table,” to Robert’s family, who “waited patiently for platters to be passed to them.” Amy also emphasises the difference between her relatives’ positive reaction when her mother brings the fish out, and Robert, who “grimaced” at the sight of the whole fish, showing that she doesn’t like the way people in her culture act, and she wishes, once again, that…show more content…
Both of Amy’s parents take pride in their culture, yet they have different levels of understanding where Amy is concerned. Amy’s mom views the dinner as an opportunity for Amy to learn to embrace her culture, but feels sympathy for Amy. She tells Amy that her “only shame is to have shame,” displaying her comfort during the dinner, and her hope that Amy will share that comfort. Unlike Amy’s mom, her dad is oblivious to Amy’s discomfort at the dinner, and does not think for a second that his culture is unusual. Towards the end of the dinner, to Amy’s shock, her father “belched loudly,” and explained to the “astonished guests,” that “it’s a polite Chinese custom to show you are satisfied.” Amy’s father’s lack of hesitation in doing this displays his unawareness of how awkward the night is for Amy, and his comfort in expressing his culture. Amy’s relatives act the same as Amy’s father, oblivious to the discomfort, and wouldn’t consider acting differently when Americans are around. When Amy’s mother brings the fish Amy previously described as “a slimy rock cod with bulging eyes,” her relatives “murmured with pleasure,” because this food was traditional to them and they looked forward to eating and sharing it with the

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