Sunday, September 11, 2011

Katy Hanratty Homework #4

“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan shows examples of open form prose.  I believe that “Mother Tongue” uses examples of open form prose because the story expresses the authors feelings about her mother’s native language in her personal narrative.  For instance, “Yet some of my friends tell me they understand 50 percent of what my mother says.  Some say they understand 80 to 90 percent.  Some say they understand none of it, as if she were speaking pure Chinese” (Tan 114).  This statement is an example of open form prose because it expresses the authors partial embarrassment of her mother’s English.  Another example of open form prose is “Lately, I’ve been giving more thought to the kind of English my mother speaks.  Like others, I have described it to people as “broken” or “fractured” English…It has always bothered me that I can think of no way to describe it other than “broken,” as if it were damaged and needed to be fixed” (Tan 114).  The author is expressing her mood about how the English language affects her life.
I believe the audience for this short story is anybody going through a transition period in their life.  In addition, anyone who is going through a significant transitional stage in there life.  The author is stuck between valuing her native language and wanting to “fit in” to the American lifestyle.  “I wanted to capture what language ability tests can never reveal:  her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech and the nature of her thoughts” (Tan 117).  This quote shows the author may be embarrassed of her mother’s “broken” English, however, the author is proud of her mother and her Chinese heritage.
This essay does conform to the genre conventions of an essay.  This coincides to the genre conventions of an essay because it is gives the reader an idea of everyday life conditions that the reader can relate to.


  1. i agree with you that the audience is anyone going through a transition period in their life just like us coming to OU!

  2. Agreed! I love how she relates her story of, as you say, being "stuck," and her realizations that come with it, and how she comes out of her experiences with this great pride for her mother and her culture in which she was raised. The essay has such a powerful effect because of the way it was written, as open form prose. :)