Compare and Contrast Essay

8 August 2016

The differences between a narrative and a descriptive essay determine the way in which the reader receives the story. The purpose of each is still very clear, to connect to the reader using story telling. In order for the reader to receive the story as intended, the author must create a clear picture of; events, settings, and purpose. In both pieces that I read, “Fish Cheeks” and “Caged Bird”, both writers were able to do this- each in their own way. The first difference between Fish Cheeks and Caged Birds is the format of the literature. Amy Tan in Fish Cheeks chose to write a short descriptive essay (Tan, 2013).

While Maya Angelou wrote in Caged Bird, a narrative in a poem format (Angelou, 1983). Each individual artist had a certain way in which, they wanted to express a significant event that they have learned throughout their life. I felt that it was easier to relate to Amy Tans message because she had taken her story from a past personal experience. I do feel that Caged Bird was a very relevant and emotional topic as well. But, I feel that Amy was able to connect more with her audience because of the method in which she chose to write her story.

Her words were very descriptive, and not vague at all. Being able to connect emotionally to your audience and getting then to relate to your story, is always a purpose of the writers written work. The second difference between “Fish Cheeks” and “Caged Birds” is the message that was instilled in the writing. Both pieces had a different message that the reader was supposed to receive after the conclusion. After reading “Caged Birds” it is clear that Maya is using birds to symbolize the struggle that unfree humans deal with, as well.

She starts off in the beginning elaborating on the harsh reality that caged birds face- clipped wings and tied feet. She then goes on to talk about how the bird sings. At the end she finishes by saying that the bird sings of freedom (Angelou, 1983). Once you have finished the reading, you can understand the correlation of the bird and humans who dream to be free. In “Fish Cheeks” Amy discusses a specific day in her past, one Christmas Eve dinner. She goes on to establish the significance of the dinner that her childhood crush and his family had joined them for that particular dinner.

She then tells of several moments in which she felt “embarrassed” and was ashamed of her Chinese culture. After the dinner is done, her mother tries to comfort her with simple words, “You want to be the same as American girls on the outside…. But inside you must always be Chinese. You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame” (Tan, 2013). At the very end she establishes that later on in life, she realizes exactly what her mother was trying to tell her. She also finishes with appreciation for her mother cooking all of her favorite food that night (Tan, 2013).

This is a very relatable scenario to anyone- American or foreign. Many people can relate to wanting to fit in, or to being embarrassed of where they come from. I think that Fish Cheeks message was less vague, and had a life experience for the basis- which gave it a lot of credibility. The third difference between “Fish Cheeks” and “Caged Bird” was the usage of quotations. In Caged Bird there was less descriptive words, and no quotations used from actual dialog (Angelou, 1983). This made the piece slightly less interesting to me.

I think that in stories quotations are very important to paint a great story. In Fish Cheeks, there was well over 4 different quotations(Tan, 2013). These quotations were also from different sources- her mother and father. This is one of the factors that contributed to a good sense of understanding at the end of the reading. Taking stories from real life events in my opinion is more relatable. After reading both literary works, it is evident that Fish Cheeks was a better written piece. I feel that it would be able to relate to almost anyone.

The ways that Amy Tan described the event and later on gave insight to her significant life revelation, was very touching. It is not an easy task to write about something, and be able to have others relate to you. I think that she chose a very relevant topic to our current day in age. The topics of bullying and peer pressure are very relevant to previous decades as well as this day in age. She was able to find something relative as well as relatable, which is why I would consider this a superior essay. Our society should learn a thing or two, from her experiences and what she has to share.

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