Across the Oceans and In Your Eyes (bullshit title!)Amy Tan s use of symbolism and strong, good dialogue in “The Voice From the Wall” serves to portray the fear of people in alien environments, illustrate how mothers pass their fears and/or beliefs on to their children, and to exemplify how a mother fights to protect what she considers rightfully hers. Amy Tan s use of symbolism in “The Voice From the Wall” shows the extreme fear of a mother in a foreign society. How she, Betty, tells Lena that she “must not walk in any direction but to school and back home”, suggests fear deep as fear can be, not to let her daughter walk anywhere else but to school and not home. How she compares a narrow doorway to a neck that has been strangled leads you to believe that she, to put it mildly, does not have a good outlook on moving into the culturally diverse neighborhood. Through numerous references to having “a baby she didn t want” and having to “kill the baby” suggest Betty had some form of a rape experience in the past which also seems to influence her fears strongly.The use of symbolism and strong dialogue in the short story help portray how the fears and feelings of a mother get passed on to her children easily. Lena says “My mother saw danger in everything,” and earlier in the story she admits to seeing “terrible things” almost everywhere through her “Chinese eyes, the part of [her] she got through mother.” These “Chinese eyes” in “The Voice” seem to symbolize the fear that Betty passed along to Lena. Whenever she is frightened it is through or due to her “Chinese eyes.” Immediately before she begins seeing these “terrible things”, her mother scolds her for going in the basement and tells her a false story of a “bad man who lived in the basement” who would have “planted five babies in [her] and eaten them all in a six-course meal.” This fantasy causes the mother s fear of rape to be transferred to Lena and makes her see these fantastic visions.
Amy Tan shows that a mother s instincts cause her to fight to the death to keep what is hers, putting her under extreme pressure. That is shown almost completely by her almost absolute control of her daughter, Lena. When telling Lena not to go anywhere except to school and home, she responds to her daughter s question of why this was happening with “Because I haven t put them in your mind yet”, illustrating that the mother believes that if she lets Lena formulate her own opinions, she may be in danger of loosing her. After she is frightened by the strange man, she “clutched [Lena s] hand so tightly it hurt”. Willingness to cause her daughter discomfort, both physically and mentally, to save her from the dangers she sees show that she loves her daughter and would risk her life for her daughter s. The symbolism and excellent dialogue in “The Voice From the Wall” illustrate how a mother s huge fears of a strangely foreign society are implanted in her daughter and cause the mother to battle fiercely to keep what is hers.