Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" provides examples of open form prose. Already in the second sentence, does this become clear as Tan writes, "I cannot give you much more than personal opinions on the English language and its variations in this country or others" (Tan 113). Is this an explicitly stated thesis that tells the reader the argument the essay is making? No, rather this essay explores the idea, or theme, of the English language, based on Tan's experiences. She continues by explaining that she contemplates "...the power of language--the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth" (Tan 113). Her statement supports the fact that this text is uses open form prose as it not only presents an idea, but also offers a human significance as language evokes powerful reactions. Another element found with open form prose is the usage of anecdotes to organize the text. Tan shares several stories from her own experiences to add strength to her writing. In one such example, Tan says, "When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she. In this guise, I was forced to ask for information or even complain and yell at people who had been rude to her" (Tan 114). With this anecdote, Tan conveys the emotional struggle she and her mother went through because of language differences.
I believe this essay is meant for adolescents, those who are outgrowing their childhood, and have felt uncomfortable, or embarrassed, that they were raised with traditions different from "normal." For "Mother Tongue" describes Tan's own discomfort and how she overcame it with the realization that "...[her] mother's English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It's [Tan's] mother tongue" (Tan 114).
"Mother Tongue" complies with the genre conventions of an essay as it presents an idea, and gives supporting evidence to persuade and evoke from its readers emotions and reflections of situations in their own lives.