Critical Reading Mother Tongue


The two essays, “Mother Tongue” and “A Hanging” are the works that have been written by renowned writers in the world of writing. Usually writers narrate about their experiences, and George Orwell and Amy Tan also wrote about their experiences. The two essays are well written, and they contain particular remarkable aspects that made them feature in this anthology of writings; they are well crafted by the writers’ pens. However, each of these essays is unique in that each writer has written from different perspective. They also have a target audience in mind, and this makes them construct and fit their language to this audience.

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Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan

This essay deals with the issue of language and the way people use language in their lives. Amy Tan gives various situations that make people change and adapt their language, and this opens the audience’s minds on the many times they vary their language domain unconsciously. The essay takes an informative point of view, and Tan gives examples of situations in which people change their language. For instance, Tan says that she varies her language whenever she speaks with her mother (McCraney 63). This shows that language varies with the incidences in which mother tongue is used. She then continues to give the various situations where the modified or different language is used.

First, Tan tells the readers that she is a writer, and therefore, she uses a complex language to express various concepts. Tan employs language that is not used by people in their social life to explain complex ideas that she incorporates in her writings. This language is different from the language used in social life. For instance, Tan uses Normal language with people, but she employs her writing language with professionals. This language also varies in official functions such as education, and students are expected to use English regardless of their linguistic background. For instance, Amy’s mother tongue influences her language, and therefore, she does not perform well in English language (McCraney 95).

Tan shows that mother tongue can influence people’s opinion on someone. Tan’s mother is not taken seriously because she cannot speak perfect English, and this causes Tan a lot of pain. The doctor ignores Tan’s mother until Tan shows up and speaks perfect English. This shows that mother tongue also influences people’s attitudes to a given person.

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“A Hanging” by George Orwell

In the essay "A Hanging", the writer remembers events that took place when he was a police magistrate in India. In this essay, George Orwell points out that it is extremely inhuman for one person to cut short the life of another person. He further indicates that every person will eventually face death. Therefore, nobody is more superior to end the life of another person. George Orwell is trying to portray the inhumanity in the execution of a human being. He wrote this book because he was always a participant when a person was to be executed (McCraney 113).

The essay "A Hanging" is about the prison warders who escort a prisoner from a cell. The prisoner is taken to the hanging place for his final breath. In a comic manner, a young mutt runs around jumping up and down with an aim of creating mayhem. The young mutt acts to interrupt the process of execution. After some time, one of the warders captures and stops him. The death party is now allowed to continue. The condemned prisoner is then led up the ladder by one of the warders. The rope is fastened, and the prisoner is given some time to pray. The execution of the prisoner commences after prayers, and the trap is strung. Then, the magistrate checks the body to confirm the execution. After the execution, the magistrate and prison warders go for a drink (McCraney 117).

George Orwell finally realized that the final walk was not just a group of men walking with a prisoner. The prisoner was also a human being. George Orwell started wondering whether the prisoner had a wife and kids. He felt that it was “unspeakable wrongness” to end the life of another human being.

Comparison and Contrast

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The two essays are quite different, though they have some common aspects. First, the two essays are written in a captivating language that draws people’s attention to the issues being addressed. The writers have also drawn their essays from issues that affect people’s life. For instance, Tan writes about the issue of language since language governs people interactions. On the other hand, Orwell writes about the issue of law since the law guides people’s interactions in the society. The two writers have also given examples from their daily life. Tan gives examples of her mother and husband, and George gives the example of a prisoner who has been sentenced to death (McCraney 141).

The essays differ from each other in that Amy Tan uses an informative perspective, while George Orwell takes a narrative perspective. Orwell is known a lot for his narratives, and Tan is known by her Teachings and realistic writings. George Orwell is also influenced by a deep heritage of English, while Amy Tan is influenced by English that is not perfect. This is because Amy inherited English from her mother, and Amy’s mother did not speak good English.

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