Pre-AP English I “Fish Cheeks” Discussion Questions
1. Why does Tan cry when she finds out that the boy she is in love with is coming to dinner?
Tan cries because she is embarrassed of her family and heritage and is afraid he will think he’s weird.
2. Why does Tan’s mother go out of her way to prepare a disturbingly traditional Chinese dinner
for her daughter and guests? What one sentence best sums up the lesson Tan was not able to understand until years later?
She knew that those were tans favorite foods.
3. How does the fourteen-year old Tan feel about her Chinese background and about her mother?
she was embarrassed about her Chinese background and her family.
4. What is Tan’s purpose in writing this essay? Does she just want to entertain readers, or might she have a larger goal in mind?
Tan is trying to explain that you shouldn’t be embarrassed about your heritage.
5. How does Tan draw the reader into her story right from the beginning?
She talks about she was in love with a boy.
6. How does Tan use transitions both to drive and to clarify her narrative?
She fast forwards the story.
7. What is the irony of the last sentence of the essay?
It’s ironic because she was embarrassed by the food when the minister’s son came over but they were all her favorite foods.
8. The simile about Mary in the second sentence of the essay is surprising. Why?
Because she’s Asian and she likes a white guy.
9. How does the narrator’s age affect the tone of this essay? Give examples
She is more naïve when she’s young, and when she is older she is more knowing.
10. In which paragraph is the usage of verbs most effective? Explain
The third paragraph because she describes how weird the food looks.
11. Identify examples where Tan uses personification and metaphor and explain their effect on the narrative.
When she is describing how nasty the food looks.
Take a perspective like...