Comparative Essay: Broken Chain and Fish Cheeks
After reading both “Broken Chain” by Gary Soto and “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, both these stories express a theme that individuals want to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. These writing express many similarities, yet they are portrayed differently. Each individual essentially will do anything to impress the person they want to be accepted by.
In the First story “Broken Chain”, The character introduced is a boy named Alfonso. This character is a person that is clearly unhappy with his appearance. Alfonso is also concerned with trying to impress a girl and if she will accept him, which creates anxiety for him. We learn early on about Alfonso’s insecurities and it continues throughout the story. Some evidence of this is that he tells us about doing sit ups daily for a week. The story also tells that he has crooked teeth and that he dislikes them. “Alfonso sat on the porch trying to push his teeth to where he thought they belonged”. This ritual of pushing on his teeth was something he did regularly. As the story continues, he runs into a girl his age. It becomes clear that wants to be accepted by this girl that he sees as cute. Walking her home, he is clearly nervous, “Alfonso looked over her shoulder for a long time, trying to muster enough nerve to ask her to go bike riding tomorrow”. It is also apparent that Sandra is just as nervous “She played with her ponytail and crossed one leg in front of the other”. Evidence is clear that people want to be accepted and worry how they are viewed by others.
In our second story, “Fish Cheeks”, we meet a fourteen-year-old girl named Amy. This character is in love with the minister’s son named Robert. We learn very quickly that she is worried about what he may think of her as a Chinese girl and her culture and family traditions. Amy’s insecurity and anxiety grows when her parents invited the minister and his family to Christmas dinner at her home. “What would Robert think of our shabby Chinese Christmas”. She is self-conscious of how her family’s behavior would reflect upon her. Her concern of how being Chinese and her traditions make her different and that people would not accept her for not being more “American”. In this story the reader understands that her mother sees her struggle to want to be accepted and shares with her some advice,” But inside you must be Chinese. You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame.” Like most teens this would not mean anything to her at the time.
After reading both these stories, both Alfonso and Amy are extremely self-conscience and insecure about themselves. These insecurities create anxiety and make them act or do things that they feel would make them socially more acceptable in the eyes of others. In the story of Broken Chain, Alfonso clearly had more concerns about his physical appearance that made him feel like he needed to change so that he can be accepted by others. An example was how he constantly trying to push his own teeth in place although he probably is not changing anything so that he feels more accepted. Whereas Amy was not as concerned with her appearance her insecurities were about not being accepted because of her Chinese culture and tradition that was unlike the American culture. Her fear of judgement about how her family not only behaved during the holiday but how the foods were different.In Broken Chain you learn that Ernie, Alfonso brother seemed to understand that feeling of wanting to be accepted even though he gave him a hard time to Alfonso he comes through in the end by lending him his bike so he could impress the girl he liked. Similarly, in Fish Cheeks, Amy’s mom is aware of how her Chinese culture and tradition make her feel and gives her a mini skirt that the other girls are wearing. She also gives advice that in the future would be appreciated by her.
In conclusion, both these characters want to feel as if they belong and people like them. Although it seems that both have family members that relate or understand them and are willing to support them,it is not enough. It appears that both characters feel that when trying to impress or gain acceptance from their peers, that their own insecurities effect how they react. They both are extremely aware of how their peers seem to react in the situations that make them uncomfortable never considering that it is probably that they also feel insecure and as if they are being judged.