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Analysis of Amy Tan's Works: Representation of Personal Experiences as a Chinese-American

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Amy Tan successfully incorporates various aspects such as Chinese values and customs in her works to create the most realistic essence of Oriental culture that she is famous for, most especially in The Bonesetter's Daughter. . She creatively intertwines pieces of both oriental culture and the mixing and clashing between east and west; she vividly displays the pathway that these cultures have caused her to take on through imposing them on the characters in her novel: the process of dealing with two cultures, the impact this had, the eventual understanding of it, and finally accepting it. This can be seen throughout the story of The Bonesetter's Daughter . It is this scenario that allows readers to delve into Amy Tan’s ideas and essentially her message quickly, giving them the access and cultural context that embodies the entire novel and paints a rich oriental color prevalent in her own life. Through her special eyes holding her personal memories and both her American and Oriental culture, Tan is able to bypass describing social life and the imagery of the novel in a broad sense and instead can imitate a magnifying glass effect, giving the readers the ability to see every nook and cranny in her characters and story . She uses the story“Yin” and “Yang” in a subtle manner in the novel to represent the need for balance, something she struggled with herself in her life. By teasing the reader, she suspends mystery in the plot and her characters and urges the reader to unlock each one, for each one holds an important piece of her memories and thoughts beyond the text on the page. This oriental mysticism of the Chinese culture can be seen weaving between every character in the story.

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Amy Tan uses her personal experiences as a Chinese-American to display themes of loneliness and isolation that allows her readers step into her shoes and to create an intimate connection with her through the characters in her story. Born in Oakland, CA, in 1952, Amy Tan was the daughter of two Chinese immigrants (Barclay 2). Due to her family’s inability to settle down in one place for an extended period of time and the fact that she was Chinese prevented her from developing intimate connections and resulted in Tan feeling like she was different, and thus, an outsider. Her practicing of her culture amidst people who viewed it as abnormal caused Tan to be embarrassed repeatedly throughout her childhood, not realizing that this feeling of isolation was common and normal until she was an adult. This inability to communicate with her own family and others drove her to write stories, ultimately giving her a way to express the thoughts that she held inside of herself, wound up, for so long. Despite her tenacity of shying away from her roots, she did admit that family is in fact the most important after she loses both her dad and brother to illnesses and her mother’s memory to Alzheimer's. Amy Tan learned the importance of family, as well, by connecting with relatives in China despite the language and cultural barrier present between them(Opposite 157). In The Bonesetter's Daughter, the character Ruth emobies Amy Tan’s persona, a rebellious daughter who constantly bickers with her mother and feels alienated and embarrassed to be with her throughout her teenage years, but who eventually learns to appreciate her mother and value the quality of life that she possesse

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Analysis of Amy Tan’s Works: Representation of Personal Experiences as a Chinese-American. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
“Analysis of Amy Tan’s Works: Representation of Personal Experiences as a Chinese-American.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
Analysis of Amy Tan’s Works: Representation of Personal Experiences as a Chinese-American. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Nov. 2023].
Analysis of Amy Tan’s Works: Representation of Personal Experiences as a Chinese-American [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Nov 30]. Available from:
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