Fish Cheeks Character Analysis

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In 2010, the Chinese American population numbered 3.8 million (Batalova, Hooper). The assimilation of the Chinese started in the 18th century when, mostly, males left their villages to become laborers in the American West, where they faced discrimination (“Chinese Immigration”). Today, Chinese American teenagers are finding it challenging to find their true identity in America because of outside temptations. The main character in “Fish Cheeks” can relate on how hard it is to find one’s identity in a different culture.
Chinese immigrants came to America in hopes for a new life. They brought with them their language, culture, social institutions, and customs (“Chinese Immigration to the United States”). They came to America why almost everyone else did, for a shot at “Gold Mountain”. When that turned out to be a bust, they turned to very laborious jobs, like constructing the railroads, mining, and agriculture. Up to 90 percent of the labor force was Chinese (Patel, Samir S.). This new life also had discrimination that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This new law limited the amount of immigrants that could come to America (“Chinese Immigration to the
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The main character in “Fish Cheeks” is embarrassed to practice her Chinese culture in front of her crush, Robert. We can tell this because Amy states, “When I found out that my parents had invited the minister’s family over for Christmas Eve dinner, I cried” (Tan 125). Even her mother could tell that Amy felt awkward and embarrassed, so she tells her, “You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame” (Tan 127). This is when Amy’s mother realizes that times are changing and that Amy will not be as involved in the Chinese culture, but she is okay with it. This experience helped Amy feel comfortable about finding out her
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