Comparative Analysis of A.Tan's ‘Mother Tongue’ and E.B.White's ‘Once More to the Lake’

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The first quote from both essays is related to time. As in both stories ‘Mother Tongue’ and ‘Once More to the Lake’ shows a glimpse of time passage and the impact of time on the characters of the story. It matters a lot for both A.Tan and E.B.White the way time has affected their life. Nothing seems to be changing for them, everything has been the same over the years. Both stories expresses memories and mainly the twist of language. The wuote from “Onice More to the Lake’ is “I began to sustain the illusion that he was I, and therefore, by simple transposition, that I was my father” (White 2). The quote from “Mother Tongue’ is “I think my mother’s English almost had an affect on limiting my possibilities in life as well” (Tan 2).

In these quotes, White is referring to his father and the old memories he had with him on the lake. Those cherish memories he had with his father were always a great joy of pleasure for White. This idea emerged again as White compares the memories of his childhood as he revisits the lake with his son. He feels as if he was with his father. It shows that tune and changes that it brings in us. On the other hand, the quote from ‘Mother Tongue’ Amy also describes the reflecting of her mother she had in her. As she grown up she observes reflexes of her mother in her. As her mother was poor in English she can observe that too. It affects a lot on her studies and limited her possibilities. In both the quotations, time it the main relying factor. Similarly both White and Amy are in a state of confusion and nervous. Both the characters confront multiple changes in them as both struggles with the illusion that their present existence remains the same with their past existence. But on the other hand, both characters are different as they understand maturity and natural cycle of death.

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In both quotes, there is an evidence that as time progressed everything remained the same for them in spite of the passage of time. Indeed it is greatness of events that has given them the evidence that things haven’t changed. Only difference here is White consider him as he was with his father and Amy considers her as if she was like her mother and life of her mother affected her life too. White refers to cherish memories with his father whereas Amy is not referring to the cherish memories she is referencing to the worst memories here. She is referring to English language here. But both are same as both are regarding to someone else as both pointing to another person.

“As he buckled the swollen belt suddenly my groin felt the chill of death” (White 1). The line shows the association between his son and himself. Both strengthened as well as he himself also feels the chills and gets feeble because he can see that the fact that he is getting older but his son is not getting older. This thing really hits him forcefully. Perhaps his dad is dead and one day he will pass away too, his son is getting bigger up as well as he is getting older. This essay ends with the line “the chill of death”. This is a disturbing and at the start abrupt finishing for the essay , mainly since on first reading it appears to be simply a pleasing depiction of a vacation on a lake side. With a slight concentration, however, it is easy to see how the essay go obviously to a approach of sense of death or certainty. These words “Chill of death” feels a real chill. As he sees his son pulling on a wet swimming trunks pair after a storm, he remembers the feeling of doing the similar thing as well as his body felt the uncomfortable shake his son is facing. But on the not literal level, that physical shake turns out to be a more holy one as well as the chill of wet trunks becomes the chill of the grave. “All the Englishes I grew up with” (Tan 2). This line is taken from ‘Mother Tongue’, Tan thinks that language can be modified on the basis of situation. When she is giving lecture in front of a large audience, for example, her language is distinguished by forms of standard English that (she) had learned in school and through books. Amy Tan is saying that she grew up listening as well as speaking lots of different types of English forms. For instance, the English she talks with her mother was not similar to the English she usually speaks at lecture. Her mother spokes English which is her “own tongue”. Tan was saying that her mother’s English was totally clear to her but to other’s her mother’s language was completely a different language. For myself, I merely make use of two forms of different englishes.

In a nutshell, both are outstanding piece of writing. Both are well written and efficient English is used throughout the stories. Main themes rely on confusion, desperation, and eagerness to go back to past where characters had excellent memories but in the case of White, things are quite different, he himself has grown up and now with his child at the same lake he had been with his father in the past years and now he when he sees the same house, same bed and same water, he feels as if he is with his father playing near the water lake. It really gives a feeling of confusion and a moment of sadness for him. On the other hand, it is the moment of sadness for Tan too when she feels its all of the faults of her mother are now keeping her restricted in achieving her life goals. But she is curious girl and believes in hard work, she knew she has strong grip on English and her stories are a clear example of it.

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Comparative Analysis of A.Tan’s ‘Mother Tongue’ and E.B.White’s ‘Once More to the Lake’. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“Comparative Analysis of A.Tan’s ‘Mother Tongue’ and E.B.White’s ‘Once More to the Lake’.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Comparative Analysis of A.Tan’s ‘Mother Tongue’ and E.B.White’s ‘Once More to the Lake’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
Comparative Analysis of A.Tan’s ‘Mother Tongue’ and E.B.White’s ‘Once More to the Lake’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Apr 15]. Available from:

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