Rhetorical Analysis Of Amy Tan's Mother Tongue

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Racial stigmas and stereotypes have negative effects on a multitude of ethnic groups. Across our nation, members of numerous races experience difficulties surrounding their identity and inability to refine their English dialects. Anna Marie Quindlen, an American author, journalist, and New York Times columnist, once said, “Ethnic stereotypes are misshapen pearls, sometimes with a sandy grain of truth at their center...but they ignore complexity, change, and individuality”. Quindlen’s viewpoint is skillfully displayed in “Mother Tongue”, a first person narration by an Asian-American woman, Amy Tan. The obstacles she encountered based on her mother’s struggle with English significantly affected their identities in our society. Overall, it is…show more content…
Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” is composed of various rhetorical appeals and stylistic devices that allow her appeal to impact a broader audience. The opening of the essay consists of an appeal to ethos, which establishes Tan’s identity as a writer and credibility. For example, “I am not a scholar of English or literature...I am a writer” (Tan 700). She continues by expressing her fascination with the “power of language”, relaying the degree of her expertise. In addition, an appeal to logos provides statistics and facts. She writes, “Some say they understand 80 to 90 percent” (701), referring to the clarity of her mother’s speech. Moreover, she adds, “But I have noticed in surveys...Asian students, as a whole, always do significantly better on math achievement tests than in English” (703-704). This develops a counterargument, conceding broad sociological questions and refuting them with survey results. Altogether, her appeal offers clear, specific ideas that solidify her argument and prompt the audience to view the subject of the text similarly to the way she does. Lastly, Tan appeals to pathos through anecdotes that share themes of hardship and tribulation. In one instance, she discloses, “When I was fifteen, she used to have me
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