Two Kinds By Amy Tan Essay Research

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Two Kinds By Amy Tan Essay, Research Paper “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan In the short story “Two Kinds,” Amy Tan explores the clash of cultures between a first-generation Chinese-American daughter, Jing-mei, and her mother, Suyan, a Chinese immigrant. Suyan is certain that Jing-mei can become a prodigy if she only tries hard enough. At first Jing-mei is eager to try, but she always falls short of her mother’s expectations. She decides that the prodigy in her is the girl who would steadfastly refuse to be what she is not. While the mother and daughter reveal their personality through their language, actions, and thoughts, conflict develops between the two women when their cultures and aspirations collide. “Two Kinds” focuses on the theme of conflict between two kinds of

women as well as two kinds of daughters. Jing-mei and her mother are two kinds of women because of their drastically different life experience. Before she come to America, Jing-mei’s mother has ” lost everything in China: her mother and father, her family home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls. But she never looked back with regret. Things could get better in so many ways”(1065). As Suyan’s past is revealed, I see a clear picture of a determined and strong-willed woman who beats all the odds to establish a better life in America. However, to the American-born daughter, Jing-mei, her mother’s past remains as far as where China is. She neither understands nor comprehends what her mother has gone through in China. When her mother insists her to learn

playing piano, her hurtful response is, “I wish I’d never been born! I wish I were dead! Like them”(1071), which pushes the conflict between the two to a higher level. Jing-mei does not understand or fully know her mother because she does not know about her tragic past and the pain she still feels from the memory of it. Her upbrings in America inevitably set her far apart from her mother. In addition to the conflict of two kinds of women, Jing-mei is also struggling between two kinds of daughters. One is whom her mother expects her to be, and the other is whom she wants to be. Her mother keeps telling her that she can be anything she wants to be, and she has great talent. “Only ask you be your best. For you sake”(1068), told by her mother. Jing-mei is pushed to be

successful in many different areas such as dance, academics, trivia, and piano. After failing to excel at each task set before her, Jing-mei begins to feel more and more resentment towards her mother. She sees her mother’s hopes as expectations, and when she does not live up to these, she feels like a failure. The final incident, when Jing-mei performs a piano piece filled with mistakes at a talent show, makes her believe that her mother is completely ashamed and disappointed with her. She starts to gather her courage to challenge her mother’s authority over her. “I’m not going to play anymore. Why should I? I’m not a genius .You want me to be someone that I’m not! I’ll never be the kind of daughter you want me to be!”(1068), she responds angrily to her mother’s

order of practicing piano after she intentionally fails the recital. Her mother shouts back, “Only two kind of daughters, those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!”(1071) Mother’s expectation has clashed with daughter’s own desire. Both the mother and daughter are struggling with the acceptance to each other as who they are. While the confrontation is ever increasing between them, they are also struggling within themselves to define their own roles and identities. To some extent, Suyan adopts many American values. She constantly tells her daughter such a typical American belief that one can be ” anything you wanted to be in America”(1065). However, to an even larger extent, her