Two Kinds by Amy Tan

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"Two Kinds" is truly an amazing work; it captivates readers with by telling a story of a young girl trying to find herself. Amy Tan does a phenomenal job, not only by portraying a very real mother-daughter relationship, but at showing how much a young girl can change. Jing-Mei evolves throughout the story in a way that many people can relate to; crushed hopes, obeying your parents even if it means doing something you don't want to do, and finally standing up for what you believe in.

Since "You could be anything you wanted to be in America" (Tan 348) Jing-Meis' mother thought that meant that you had to be a prodigy. While that makes "Everything [sound] too simple and too easily achieved; [Jing-Mei] does not paint a picture of her mother as ignorant or silly" (Brent). In fact, in the beginning, Jing-Mei and her mother are both trying to "Pick the right kind of prodigy" (Tan 349). "In the beginning, [she] was just as excited as [her] mother,"(Tan 349) she wanted to be a prodigy, she wanted to "become perfect…[she wanted her] mother and father to adore [her]"(Tan 349). As she strived to achieve perfection she and her mother would try many different things to try and find the "right kind of prodigy" (Tan 349).

"Every night after dinner, [Jing-Mei and her mother] would sit at the Formica kitchen table. [Her mother] would present new tests, taking her examples from stories of amazing children she had read in Ripley's Believe It or Not, or Good Housekeeping, Reader's Digest, and a dozen other magazines…[Her mother] would look through them all, searching for stories about remarkable children" (Tan 350)

Over time "The tests got harder—multiplying numbers in [her] head, finding the queen of hearts in a deck of cards, trying to ...

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... mother never talked about the "disaster at the recital or [her] terrible accusations afterward at the piano bench" (Tan 356), she was surprised when her mother "offered to give [her] the piano, for her thirtieth birthday" (Tan 357). She doesn't accept it at first, but later "[Has] the piano reconditioned, for purely sentimental reasons" (Tan 357).

When her mother dies, Jing-Mei really shows how much of a dynamic character she is. She realizes that, just like the songs in the piano book, her mother and she "were they were two halves of the same song" (Tan 357).

Works Cited

Bernheimer, Kate. "Two Kinds." Short Stories for Students, volume 9:287-302

Brent, Liz. "Two Kinds." Short Stories for Students, volume 9: 287-302

Tan, Amy. "Two Kinds." Literature: A Portable Anthology. Ed. Janet E. Gardner, et. Al. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2004. 348-357.

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