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Point of View in Amy Tan’s Short Story, Two Kinds Essay

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Point of View in Amy Tan’s Short Story, Two Kinds


In her short story "Two Kinds," Amy Tan utilizes the daughter's point of view to share a mother's attempts to control her daughter's hopes and dreams, providing a further understanding of how their relationship sours. The daughter has grown into a young woman and is telling the story of her coming of age in a family that had emigrated from China. In particular, she tells that her mother's attempted parental guidance was dominated by foolish hopes and dreams. This double perspective allows both the naivety of a young girl trying to identify herself and the hindsight and judgment of a mature woman.

"Two Kinds" is a powerful example of differing personalities causing struggles between parent and child. In every parent-child relationship, there are occurrences in which the parent places expectations on the child. Some children fall victim to a parent trying too hard or placing expectations too high, or, in the case of "Two Kinds," a parent trying to live her life through that of her child. However, the mother is also a victim in that she succumbs to her own foolish dream that "you could be anything you wanted to be in America." Knowing that her own time has passed, she wants her daughter to succeed by any means necessary, but she never stops to think of what her daughter might want. She strictly adheres to her plan, and her overbearing parenting only leaves the daughter with feelings of disapproval and questions of self-worth. The mother does not realize the controversy that she creates, and she cannot understand that her actions could be wrong. She also does not realize that she is hurting not only her daughter, but also the relationship that should bind the two of them ...


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...by the wrong person. Only after the death of her mother can she let her guilt override her pride. Only after the death of her mother, when she can act on her own accord and not please her mother, does she truly play the piano. Their conflict has gone unsolved, and the mother has died believing that she was a failure as a parent. Throughout the daughter's childhood, both are trapped in their own selfish illusions. Their personalities clash, and neither is willing to compromise. It is unfortunate that neither can realize the extent to which they have damaged themselves individually and jointly. They are fundamentally the same, but, blinded by tenacity, neither realizes that "they are two halves of the same song."


Works Cited

Tan, Amy. "Two Kinds". Literature, Reading Reacting,Writing. 5th ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston: Heinle, 2004.


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