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The Themes Of Feminism In Amy Tan's Two Kinds

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In Amy Tan 's Two Kinds, Jing-mei and her mother show how through generations a relationship of understanding can be lost when traditions, dreams, and pride do not take into account individuality. By applying the concepts of Virginia Woolf, Elaine Showalter, and the three stages of feminism, one can analyze the discourse Tan uses in the story and its connection to basic feminist principles.
Virginia Woolf, one of the pioneers of modern feminism, found it appalling that throughout most of history, women did not have a voice. She observed that the patriarchal culture of the world at large made it impossible for a woman to create works of genius. Until recently, women were pigeonholed into roles they did not necessarily enjoy and had no way of
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French feminist criticism concerns itself with the objectification of women, and examples abound in Two Kinds. From the beginning, Jing-mei’s mother pushes her to be a prodigy partially for reasons of pride and competition. Jing-mei’s Auntie Lindo has a daughter who is a national chess champion, and Auntie Lindo never fails to remind anybody of the fact. When discussing their daughters, both Auntie Lindo and Jing-mei’s mother make no mention of their character, only bragging about their level of “genius”. Ironic as it sounds, they are objectifying their daughters and using them as status symbols, no different from flaunting a new car or gadget. On the other hand, American feminist criticism focuses on the victimization of women, a victimization that is apparent in Two Kinds. Though at first glance, Jing-mei’s mother may seem like the antagonist in the story, when one considers her backstory it is apparent that she just wants her daughter to have the life she never had. The mother lost everything when she moved from China to San Francisco in 1949. In China she lost her family, her spouse, and she had to abandon her twin baby girls. She had a very difficult life in a society that was even more hostile to women than post-World War II America. Finally, there is the Female Subtext form of criticism, which focuses on minor female characters. The minor female characters in this story are Aunt Lindo and her daughter Waverly, two toxic characters that represent the opposite of what feminism stands for. Aunt Lindo drones on about how great her daughter and remarks about how she is obsessed with chess with mock disgust. Waverley herself is no saint, as she brags about her level of genius while belittling Jing-mei after her piano recital fiasco. This is strikingly similar to how men looked down upon women as subhuman for most of history. All in all, Two Kinds is
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