In the very different and unique stories “Champion of the World” by Maya Angelo and “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, there is similar symbolism regarding their acceptance, although Angelo has more of a struggle. Angelo does an incredible Job of describing and pointing out multiple examples of her struggle for acceptance and is more heartfelt and impacting than Tans. In comparison, Amy Tan gives us symbolism to connect her ideas and main points when it comes to her struggle of acceptance, but not as well as Angelo.
Tan is so caught up with “What would Robert think of our shabby Chinese Christmas? ” (99). She describes her Christmas as “shabby’ only because Robert is not used to her Chinese customs, she feels ashamed and embarrassed. She is so caught up in fitting in with him and his American traditions; she loses a little bit of herself and becomes inferior to him. Robert in essence becomes this symbol of an all-American-American which is something she’s not but that she so bad wants to be. She does not realize until she is reminded, “You ant to be the same as American girls on the outside. She handed me an early gift. It was a miniskirt in beige tweed. “But inside you must always be Chinese. You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame” (Tan, 100). Her lack of self-confidence made her feel inferior to Robert, but not that he really was. She tries to act as if she’s not good enough to share her customs and traditions with him because they are different and that her ways must not be right. The miniskirt becomes the symbol again of America, and her trying to fit in.
But she is reminded that she must be proud that she is different, and not to forget where she comes from. In contrast, Maya Angelo has a deeper sense of symbolism and is more meaningful and impacting in showing her everyday struggle. Angelinos first revealing thoughts were, “l wondered if the announcer gave any thought to the fact that he was addressing as “ladies and gentlemen” to all the Negroes around the world who sat sweating and praying, glued to their “Master’s voice”(93). Angelo being a child and being African-American is in awe when she hears this announcement.
She has never known for her people to be called by that title, she already has been taught to believe that her people are beneath the whites. She already starts to discriminate against herself and her own race, and has struggle within herself, is she really a young lady or is she Just a black girl living in a white man’s world? If Luis lost, “It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped. A Black boy whipped and maimed. It was hounds on the trail off man running through slimy swamps.
It was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful” (Angelo, 94). For all these reasons she fears white people and believes she and her people are beneath them. She is taught by example of her peers and what is shown to her that these people are to be feared. This fight symbolizes something way bigger; it represents a worldwide struggle to oppression and racism. She thinks “If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help” (Angelo, 94). If Joe Luis lost, all blacks would lose to the white man’s whip in her mind.
They got power from the fight it gave them a sense of pride and a sense of themselves as human beings. In some way she thought that if Luis won the fight, racism and suffrage would disappear. She thought that if a black fighter can beat a white man, why can’t the rest of the black people rebel and beat the oppressor. The symbolism of Joe Luis is the rebellion of all blacks; he was the black people’s hero. “It would all be true; the accusations that we were lower types of human beings. Only a little higher than apes.
True that we were stupid and ugly and lazy and dirty and unlucky and worst of all, that God himself hated us and ordained us to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, forever and ever, world without end” (Angelo, 97). She yet again starts dehumidifying herself and her people. She starts to feel she is worthless and less of what she truly is because Luis starts losing the fight and Angelo starts losing hope. When Luis wins she is ecstatic though cannot completely express her Joy. She feels empowered and that her people are the strongest in the world. She gets her pride back.
These two stories are from different places and different backgrounds yet have similar struggles in acceptance on different levels and their symbolism. Angelo has deeper overall meanings of her symbolism and has real events and for the time frame. For the fact that Angelo has had more struggle and more severe internal and external struggle makes her story more heartfelt. Not only does she connect with the reader she gives more insight to her life story. The symbolism had a larger-scale meaning, not Just from a low self- esteemed girl who was Just trying to fit in.