Fish Cheeks – Being American

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Fish Cheeks – Being American

Based on the article, Amy Tan identifies being American as exhibiting proper manners. She asks, “What would he think of our noisy Chinese relatives who lacked proper American manners? Through her question, we get to understand that Americans do not make noise while having meals, unlike the Chinese who she says that like making a lot of noise. Besides, she brings into the reader’s attention that the American dish consists of a roasted turkey and sweet potatoes. Amy brings this into attention when she states, “What a terrible disappointment would he feel upon seeing not a roasted turkey and sweet potatoes, but Chinese? And this is a major indication of how the Chinese food contrasts with American. Amy is not happy about Chinese food, and she feels disappointed.

Based on the two identification of being American means being rigid on a certain type of food. Her suggestion makes it easy to guess that an American dish should consist of roasted turkey and sweet potatoes, especially on the festive season such as on Christmas. Based on my opinion, I don’t think that being American can be dictated by eating roasted turkey and sweet potatoes, and this is because there are other diets that Americans do take in such big events. Not every American meal has the above mention foods and therefore, I can say that Amy was generalizing what she had seen in maybe a single event.

Regarding the Chinese making a lot of noise, I also don’t agree, especially in contemporary society as people do chat during dinner and other meals. However, I guess the main point that Amy wants to drive home is that the Americans are civilized and don’t make much noise. But we can’t generalize again to the Chinese as making noise may not be their will but because their dialect makes them so. The American dialect is slow and comforting both in making a speech and even chatting with others. It doesn’t have a high pitch, and this makes it less noisy, and this is what makes the Chinese perceive it as good manners. On the Chinese dialect, most of the words are high-pitched, and this makes it seem as if a person is shouting and when a group of Chinese speak at a go, it may translate to intensive noise, and this is what Amy feels like is out of the norm of the American culture. She is afraid of the noises despite being normal chats.

Being American means patience, while the Chinese licked the ends of their chopsticks and reached across the table and dipping them into dozen plates of food, the Americans waited patiently for the platters to be passed to them. Another aspect of the Chinese that is not exhibited by the Americans is belching. Amy states that her father leaned back and belched loudly as a way of showing satisfaction. According to the Chinese, it is a polite way of saying that one is satisfied. Finally, Amy’s mother grants her a miniskirt which, according to her, was a symbol of being America. She tells Amy, You want to be the same as American girls on the outside.” Based on the two symbols, I can agree with her that being American means being polite and patient and this is what manners comes in, unlike his father who belched loudly, Americans would simply give a comment of the food as a way of saying thank you and as a way of showing satisfaction. In regards to dressing, I do agree with Amy’s mother that Americans wear miniskirts, and this is evidenced in today’s generation, where wearing short dresses is the latest fashion.

Works Cited

Tan, Amy. “Fish Cheeks.” The Brief Bedford Reader (2000): 92-95. Retrieved from: