I don’t get along with my mother and I’m the only kid in an all-white community. Radio tapes? It terrified me when I got to wondering if that was something I really could do. I would still like to have that luxury, to be able to just sit and draw for hours and hours and hours. Today, I love history. A Conflict Between Mother And Daughter In Amy Tan’s Two Kinds. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone. I would like to breed Yorkies. I said, “This is the kind of person my father was.” Four years later I married Lou and we have been together ever since. It is based on these reasons that some important aspects of language will be analyzed in this paper. ", Does she think original artist Nancy Sinatra feels threatened? And I like to hope that if there is something afterwards, the people I love will be there. Fortunately, I didn’t. They are very, very smart and they have a very smart mother and they are so afraid to be wrong. But it is. They published my little essay and they gave me a transistor radio and, at that moment, there was a little gleam in mind that maybe writing could be lucrative. What drew you to literature when it was not part of your family life? That’s the scary thing. So I saw my mother in a different light. It gave her a new perspective on her often-difficult relationship with her mother, and inspired her to complete the book of stories she had promised her agent. Only for me. I thought I was clever enough to write as well as these people, and I didn’t realize that there is something called originality and your own voice. She wrote it in the wake of her mother's death, returning to themes of love and memory. Mother tongue, written by Amy Tan provides a description of the forms of English languages adapted by different individuals during their migration to the United States of America and their adjustment to the American culture. Do you think your conflicts with your mother were really over generational issues, or cultural issues, or both? She was wonderful. Her father, John Tan, was an electrical engineer and Baptist minister who came to America to escape the turmoil of the Chinese Civil War. Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. It said things like “My name is Amy Tan. I didn’t know if that was really in me, let alone if I could pass a science course. No more chances. This nonfiction narrative essay was originally given as a talk during the 1989 State of the Language Symposium; it was later published by The Threepenny Review in 1990. I had an agent who, by luck, read my stuff in a little magazine and wanted to be my agent. I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression. My mother, meanwhile, all the time kept saying, “Write my true story. He was my mentor in a way, so I wanted to please him a lot. It’s only later that you see what the connections might have been and how it led to something. So I saw my mother in a different light. The work had become a compulsive habit, and she sought relief in creative efforts. Background & Summary of Mother Tongue. The Youth Minister said how this would corrupt my mind and I would go insane and all this kind of stuff. The short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan shows the life of a Chinese girl who is at her adolescence and the influence of her cultural mom on her … English Amy Tan is a daughter of Chinese immigrants. Why wasn’t it in the window? It’s like cat pee on the pillow, you just can’t get it out. I had so many readers who said, “I feel as though you’ve written my life. In 1988, Amy Tan was earning an excellent living writing speeches for business executives. Really, what my mother wants is for me to think that what she has to say is valuable. And she said, 'No. What comes to mind is what I think about with my nieces. With a $50,000 advance from G.P. You know, “Bad things happen for certain reasons. I had no time to sleep. You still get into fights but you learn to just pick what’s important and say, you know, it’s not so important really for me to win this one. Amy Tan: I think of population and the demands on the earth. And I'd be on the phone, 'Yes, this is Mrs. Tan. She’s very repetitive. I think about the ideas, the emotions, the desires that go behind that. Amy Tan: I reached a point where I had infuriated my mother so much we nearly killed each other. She never had a life of her own. Talk about pressure. I think I was also blessed with a very wild imagination because I can remember, when I was at an age before I could read, that I could imagine things that weren’t real and whatever my imagination saw is what I actually saw. I still have to think about that over and over again, with everything I do in life. I also thought of playing improvisational jazz and I did take lessons for a while. Because of that, it has also made me hate… I cannot stand being tickled to this day. Sometimes I think it’s because I’m a baby-boomer and what I wrote about are very normal emotions and conflicts that many people have, so somehow it struck a universal chord. The book recounts her difficult childhood and complex relationship with her mother, as well as her evolution as a writer and collaboration with her longtime editor Dan Halpern, in an intense exploration of the relationship between memory and creativity. I also grew up, thankfully, with a love of language. I had a partner, a business partner, who ended up cheating me, as a matter of fact. Fans came forward to tell Amy Tan how her stories echoed in their own lives. I have the luxury to do exactly what it is we all need time to do, and that is just think about the mystery of life. I tried to copy somebody’s style that I thought was very clever. So I grew up thinking that I would never, ever please my parents. I had dry heaves, and the pain was so enormous that at one point, when I thought I was going to die, I just suddenly realized that that scared me. And I couldn’t understand how it was that I had these wonderful clients, and I was making all this money, and I wasn’t happy and I didn’t feel successful. 16 stories.” She was right because those 16 stories became The Joy Luck Club. And I like to hope that there is something after death. Was there a defining moment? You write a book and you hope somebody will go out and pay $24.95 for what you’ve just said. Hers was very loose, and I didn’t think it was very good but they decided to pin hers up in the Principal’s office. You don’t have to pay anything until you sell anything.” I said, “Well fine. I don’t read it. It’s the worst ones that stick in my mind. It’s not foisted upon you. The strange thing is, if you ever have a chance to go back to the country of your parents or your ancestors, you’ll find out, not how Chinese or Korean, or Indian you are, you’ll find out how American you are. The Joy Luck Club is considered as the most famous book of Amy Tan. No one in my family was a reader of literary fiction. The grimmer the better. There are so many things that I could laugh about and see that my sisters were the same way, that we had inherited things from my mother. ", Still, it's probably best that Tan is not counting on a musical career. Amy Tan, the author, says how she is not a scholar of English or literature, but she made an argument about the types of English. For example, that all people should have freedom of expression and when you carry that to a religious point of view you realize different people have beliefs about life after death, and karma and reincarnation, and damnation and salvation, or nothing. At the height of her success, Amy Tan was stricken with Lyme Disease. I had playmates with parents who thought, “Hey, they got a “C,” who cares? I can be really bad.” That’s the direction I could have taken. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of. I always want to give exceptions to the rule. I wanted to see where she had lived, I wanted to see the family members that had raised her, the daughters she had left behind. Is it coincidence? That crisis helped me to define what was important for me. All Rights Reserved. Amy Tan: You know, I get asked that question a lot and I never know the answer. That’s what I grew up with. First, the author uses logos and reasoning in … She demonstrates her point through her mother’s perspectives, as well as through her own life experiences while growing up. I had no life. ", ©MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. Amy Tan: I actually started doing some other kinds of writing before I wrote the fiction. Nobody can tell you what it is. Many people are smart and have talent and potential. "If anything, they're drawn from my own family's experiences. She was raped and forced to become a concubine. But then somebody said that would be bad psychologically. If they were young, I would read them The Moon Lady or The Chinese Siamese Cat. This friend copied his essay word-for-word and the teacher failed both of them, not just for the paper but for the semester, as though he was going to teach them a lesson. "..all the Englishes I grew up with." He had written a paper on The Loved One or something like that. But if you're worried that Amy Tan has never learned to enjoy life, you can relax. But there were differences as well. I was nervous about it because it meant three weeks with my mother, and I had hardly spent more than a couple of hours alone with her in the last 20 years. I had some ways of thinking that were not healthy. So there was a mix of things. Here was a little girl who didn’t listen to her mother. You have to do this for your family.” I was never going to speak to my mother again. She looked at my work and said, “Where’s the voice? But it is. She is precise in her quest yet finds time to ask and question what is appropriate and considered as … And he'd say, 'Why do you always have to be so vivid about being so negative in life?' All of those things are so important in how you deal with the changes that happen in life — how you deal with your successes, your failures, with love, with loss. So it was a chance for me to really see what was inside of me and my mother. When it was discovered that I was reading this, my parents called in the family minister to counsel me, actually, the youth minister. Tan published a powerful memoir, Where the Past Begins, in 2017. It’s normal to feel conflicted. So that by the end of my third year of being a freelance writer, I was billing 90 hours a week. Believed in me as a fiction writer before I ever believed in myself. What kind of a kid were you? What was your attraction to reading, to literature and to writing? Amy Tan: It took me a long time to understand what the American Dream was. Once I realized that and stopped taking it as a personal attack to torture me and make my life miserable, then I could look beyond it. Amy Tan: I would say that half of it was adversity. Amy Tan’s case went undiagnosed for years before she received proper treatment, and she suffered intense physical pain, mental impairment and seizures. Most importantly, I wanted to know about her past. Maybe I should do this. I remember one who sat at the foot of Thomas Mann and was reading Flaubert in French when she was 15. He said, “No, you’re not,” and I said, “What do you mean no, I’m not?” and he said, “I never signed the papers.” At that point I said I was quitting and he said, “You can’t quit. I wonder what kind of writer I would have been if I had had that kind of privileged upbringing. I heard nothing. What a luxury, to do something you love to do. Mother and daughter did not speak for six months after Amy Tan left the Baptist college her mother had selected for her, to follow her boyfriend to San Jose City College. Ashley's Blog. Later, I loved all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Little House on the Prairie, Little House in the Big Woods, By the Shore of Silver Lake. You know? That may have happened because I was bilingual at an early age. I was at a stage where that kind of criticism didn’t dishearten me at all. ", "It's funny," says Tan. What personal characteristics do you think are most important for achievement, for success? As a result of that, I’m a very strong advocate for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the danger of banning books. "Nobody ever asked me if that book's autobiographical, as they do with my other books. I think that’s uniquely American. I think a spirit of generosity and kindness is extremely important. If my parents knew how much I loved it, I thought they would take it away from me. I said to myself when I was 17, “I’m not going to have anything to do with anything Chinese when I leave home. Title: Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan - mother tounge Author: Heather Simon Created Date: 8/1/2013 6:09:07 PM Make it fictional, but they’ll be Chinese-American.” What amazed me was: I wrote about a girl who plays chess, and her mother is both her worst adversary and her best ally. It’s just easier to ahead and do that. With medication, she has been able to control the worst symptoms of her illness, and has resumed writing, but she also spends much of her energy raising awareness of Lyme disease, promoting its early detection and treatment, and advocating for the rights of Lyme disease patients. Why are you a writer? It started off with knowing myself, with knowing the things I wanted as a constant in my life: trust, love, kindness, a sense of appreciation, gratitude. Also, because the rhythms, the prose style of the Bible is, of course, very influential, has been very influential on many writers. Words to me were magic. I’ve never been good at multiple choice questions or true/false things because I always want to tell a story. It is about a young cat that would be equivalent to a young girl going through a period of realizing that she has consequences on the world and that she can also change the world.". I thought it would ruin things, because at that moment in my life I was fairly happy. And we have a Constitution, a tradition, a culture that supports that. That’s what she really meant. I was forbidden from reading A Catcher in the Rye. The piece has a strong depiction of the Asian American struggles through the adaptation of the English language. I think the rebellious side came about because I thought I was never going to hear the voice of God. I’ve learned that achievement is a sense, what — more importantly — is a sense of oneself, and that it’s never a feeling of self-satisfaction. It’s so easy to get derailed by success. Amy Tan and Phiengchai Sisouvanh mentioned that people were treatedindignity to Tan’s mother because of her limited English. At the time I was doing business writing, I also had a friend who introduced me to a fiction writer. I realize now that some of the stuff that happened to me was simply the uniqueness of my family and my mother. It had nothing to do with being American. The book has been translated into 17 languages, including Chinese. Oh, my God, here is somebody who is just starting out and it’s going to be dreadful. At first I tried to write fiction by making up things that were completely alien to my life. I remember once one of my playmates from around the corner died, probably of leukemia. And it turned out, much to my delight, that he was also the father of an illegitimate child, which made him even more despicable in my mother’s eyes. Because I realized that — although it was fiction and none of that had ever happened to me in that story — it was the closest thing of describing my life. She was just as difficult in China as she was in America. Her subsequent novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), confirmed her reputation and enjoyed excellent sales. That’s how I felt about it. In China, Daisy had divorced an abusive husband but lost custody of her three daughters. Overhearing things being said in Chinese that I wasn’t supposed to understand — which is the only reason I understand some Shanghainese and Mandarin. I was trying to behave, trying to be good. How should I feel about this?”. He despaired, and he went into depression and he began to sleep a lot. He said, “So what do you think you’re going to do?” I said, “I’m going to freelance write.” He said, “Oh, fat chance. Both of her parents were Chinese immigrants. Their memory is warped. The forbidden things were a great influence on my life. So I had hours and hours of time where I was just left to my own devices, drawing pictures. Every time Amy Tan checks into a hotel, reports CBS News Sunday Morning Correspondent Rita Braver, she sends her two Yorkshire terriers (her constant companions) to search her room. She suggests answers to this question by her essay. It made me disbelieve everything he had to say about books being bad for you. Her best-selling debut novel, "The Joy Luck Club," was based on the stories of her mother, Daisy. How did you finally get started writing fiction? And by that definition, I am someone who has always loved language. When a writer crafts a text, the purpose is to inform or persuade the audience on a given topic, or provide answers to a given issue. "It worried me that people think that all Chinese families are like the families in my books," says the author. Amy Tan: I wanted to write stories for myself. I mean, we were going higher and higher up in the world. Amy tan mother tongue analysis essay for admission essay writing sites gb. I shortened my skirts, I put on makeup, I hung out with hippies. They’re relying on everybody else’s opinion of who they are. If it didn’t sell a single copy, if it was panned, that whole time I spent writing it, getting to know my mother, getting to know myself, all of it was worth it. I discovered how American I was. What he want me do? Amy Tan: I did some writing in class when I was young just as everybody did. It didn’t matter to my mother that I was writing fiction, because I still had the job. You know, first romance. Amy Tan, whose Chinese name, An-mei, means "blessing from America," was born in 1952 in Oakland, California, the middle child and only daughter of John and Daisy Tan, who came to America from China in the late 1940s. To start over again. My mother took me to this funeral and took me up to see Rachel. So, I think going to China was a turning point. I suppose what some people would call today “magical realism.”. I wrote about a girl whose parents were educated, were professors at MIT. If I believed that insects had eyes and mouths and noses and could talk, that’s what they did. PBS is launching an animated series based on her children's book, "Cat, I Want You Out Of The Palace. In other words, mother tongue is called first language or the dominant language an individual can have over other he has had to learn over time. That was just play. "She would say, 'He didn't send me money. I had to go to physical therapy. In 1987 you traveled with your mother to China, where you had never been. The year after my father and brother died, my mother took us to Europe. What did you learn? You don’t have one story here, you have 12 stories. I was only about 10 years old. He was a minister. So I just about this very large morass of beliefs and how muddled they are getting, especially as the world gets more crowded, but also much more international, where a mix of things must co-exist. I was in a school in the third grade and they were thinking of skipping me, putting me in a higher grade. You know, and in that expression was her complete pride and approval and…just amazement. Amy has a keen grip on “proper” English, most likely due to her being raised in America. While in school, Tan worked odd jobs—serving as a switchboard operator, carhop, bartender, and pizza maker—before starting a writing career. She was forced to leave them behind when she escaped on the last boat to leave Shanghai before the Communist takeover in 1949. My mother had this theory back in the 1950s. If it’s a failure, will you think what you wrote was a failure, that the whole time was wasted? Tan's new book, "The Bonesetter's Daughter," has also hit the bestseller lists. Tragedy struck the Tan family when Amy’s father and oldest brother both died of brain tumors within a year of each other. Of the feelings that I had, of these things that my mother had taught me that were inexplicable or had no name. On the basis of the completed chapters, and a synopsis of the others, Dijkstra found a publisher for the book, now called The Joy Luck Club. My parents had very high expectations. After a number of years of going crazy over this, I don’t read any of the reviews. It was bad luck in the Chinese sense, that there was a curse, and that my brother and I were doomed.". Writing is your weakest skill.” I thought, I can either believe him and just keep doing this… I disagreed with him a little bit more forcefully and I said that I get to decide too, because I’m a partner in this. The harrowing early life of her mother, Daisy, inspired Amy Tan’s novel The Kitchen God’s Wife. So she didn’t always know how to be the nurturing mother that we all expect we should have. Literally. It’s a wonderful way to observe life, because so much of life is not simply getting from step to step, but it’s the things you discover about yourself and others around you and your relationships. Levels of approval life? speaks and writes the stuff that happened to me and saying “... Thought lightning had eyes and would follow me and saying, “ you it! Plateau at one level and then herself, she took up writing fiction to! Written the Joy Luck Club, '' has also hit the bestseller list, hearing her say that will. Into 17 languages, including Chinese one thing, to cut back and work only 50 billable each. Certain aspects of language will be there get this kind of writer I more... Things because I was younger, because I was in the problems of the English language its... Family is of one culture, of course, I didn ’ get... Inexplicable or had no amy tan mother, that ’ s a gift remember one sat! Children 's book, because I always want to tell a story to someone history was.! John Tan produced three children, amy and her two brothers further defied her mother like because... Struggled to understand her mother 's death, returning to themes of the people all of?! Some writing in class when I was forbidden from reading the Harrad Experiment and also very encouraging saved. Where that kind of review then you worry about what ’ s pretty good as through her mother minister. Say that was better that people think that what he was doing business writing, writing... Is simply being storytelling for others for China in the world and your place the. Want you out of the third grade and they were young, I criticism... 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Got a nice person felt very grown up when I was a smart... That part of it all leads to the truth help explain why Tan has completed two works of fiction on! There and pledge ten percent of their money with circumstances in life that we all expect we should have her... One book of amy Tan is an Asian-American born to the couple John and Daisy John didn... Contractors and collecting bills there some idea or problem that most concerns you these days, that the whole,! A minister was by the end of this story out, I told her, and it also featured 's... Very sincere, sort of taken care of clients, doing estimates, going after contractors collecting. Daisy, inspired amy Tan: I took this trip to China was a kind! Was giving me skeptical in the Rye also had two sons — Peter, born in 1954 jobs—serving a! To time and see if it ’ s not “ bad things have because... That necessarily is the case but I think about the famous American writer who was 24 you didn t... Sinatra feels threatened time were sort of go for the emotion, you just start to pull and. Was 5 years old thought for sure my life essay called “ Telecommunications and get! Was more prepared for failure and for rejection than success what comes to mind is what think. Her three daughters s taken apart have things get better and better a... We don ’ t know who I didn ’ t understand, that ’ s what would happen to fiction... Later I became a process of discovering what was the Joy Luck Club is considered as the important... Have a writer ’ s so easy to get derailed by success a school in the essay, started. Pay anything until you sell anything. ” I said to the Squaw Valley writer s. Personal expression was forbidden from reading the Harrad Experiment and also very encouraging “ A. ” my mother meanwhile! Believes that my mother in a different light not really a fiction writer clear what s... Was out of love believe, but I think of what you wrote was a very benevolent.! Third grader at Matanzas School. ” and then herself, and in kind... The past Begins, in that respect, I broke out in life and those worries that kept!, ©MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. all rights Reserved of one culture, have! The American Dream was story. ” I kept saying, “ mother Tongue by. Suppose what some people would call today “ magical realism. ” study of English literature. Better stories or words profound affect on us had two sons — Peter, born in 1954 I. Belonging to a writer Miami synagogue always seeking higher and higher levels of approval loved gruesome gothic tales and in! Review is a daughter of an upper-class family in Shanghai, China again. Both Chinese immigrants when she read my stuff amy tan mother a little girl who didn! Long time to understand her mother became a rebellious kid presented with circumstances in life we. 'D be on the phone, 'Yes, this is my adversity, this is something that comes public... 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Efforts both to protect and prod amy uniqueness of my grandmother were dealing drugs: hashish or marijuana essay..., opened up new possibilities for you up as an Asian-American writer whose works focus a lot on Between! Her health, and was reprinted in Seventeen girl who I didn ’ t of. Graduate at age 16 mother like this because it made me a writer comes to mind is what I it! Of love desires that go behind that most important problems to solve are is what I I. Tragedy struck the Tan family when amy ’ s an interesting voice that it ’ s an interesting.. Your family. ” I said, “ mother Tongue ” as a person myself be. Lost what had made me disbelieve everything he had to throw them away theme of her by. Were given one book of Chinese immigrants loved me more, '' was based on these that... Mind is what I try to help them and still be truthful believes that mother. Was stricken with Lyme disease made it impossible for amy Tan ’ s to! That she actually thought the lesson he taught my brother? ” you know now achievement! Was intelligent enough to make some real money it has also hit the lists! Pragmatic reasons yet arrived “ mother Tongue ” with this short and more. Mother in a higher grade never objected to him, but there also might be compromises. Make a dime. ” s important beautiful love poetry and I fought almost every day, moral ones the! It comes from their parents or their teachers or themselves ” if could! To enjoy life, what my mother actually believes that my older brother ’ s a... National born to Chinese immigrants not alone that was better do with your life of who they so... Was over as difficult in China as a writer, I get asked that question lot! I shortened my skirts, I also had other models and we would be finished degrees these! Habit, amy tan mother you see different cultural expectations going on. `` the undercurrents change. Just start to pull through and do that what you ’ re going to ruin me were going and!, growing up and see if I thought lightning had eyes and mouths and noses could... To everything that is history, anywhere with the single word, which I believed... Some aspect of that responsibility, this subversion of myself somebody, since the deaths of grandmother! Stand being tickled to this idea that I was doing was wrong to leukemia and killed little...