Thursday, September 15, 2011
Cayla Lepior Homework #4
Personally, I thought Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” was really interesting and informative on how family life can influence literacy. This essay seemed to be open prose or even a mix of closed and open prose. The author uses “I” frequently making the essay less formal but still creating a solid structure. It is clear that the essay is a narrative and instead of a thesis, the author uses a story of her childhood and the broken language she grew up with around her, which formed her view of literacy today. Unlike closed prose, Tan includes contradictions of her beliefs, for example, “Sociologists and linguists probably will tell you that a person’s developing language skills are more influenced by peers. But I do think that the language spoken in the family, especially immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the languages of a child” (Tan 115). Although she provides opinions from both sides, she supports her belief with experience, which makes her points equally important.
The audience of this essay could be young readers such as us, as she is addressing a specific person/people in her writing. Examples of this occur throughout the text, like when she writes, “You should know that my mother’s expressive command of English belies on how much she actually understands” (Tan 114). She is rather informal and simple with her words, appealing to a wide audience of people, maybe even those struggling with their personal literacies.
I do not believe this essay conforms to the genre conventions of an essay because it seems to be more creative than a closed prose essay would be. It is a lot different from any formal essay I have read, as it is intriguing and thoughtful. She addresses a topic that is personal and life-shaping experiences most people wouldn’t give a second thought to. Although she stays on the same topic and “thesis” throughout the entire work, she relates the whole essay to her own life, making this a narrative, different from other structured essays.