The Relationship Between a Mother and Daughter in Two Kinds by Amy Tan Essay

The Relationship Between a Mother and Daughter in Two Kinds by Amy Tan Essay

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"Two Kinds" by Amy Tan is about the intricacies and complexities in the relationship between a mother and daughter. Throughout the story, the mother imposes upon her daughter, Jing Mei, her hopes and dreams for her. Jing Mei chooses not what her mother wants of her but only what she wants for herself. She states, "For, unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could be only me" (Tan 1). Thus this "battle of wills" between mother and daughter sets the conflict of the story.

The theme seems to be about how the expectations of a parent can lead to resentment from the child when the child fails to meet those expectations. The theme is partially set in the opening paragraph with the statement, "My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America" (Tan 1), and again in the second paragraph, when the mother tells the daughter, "Of course you can be prodigy, too" (Tan1). Throughout the story, the mother constantly insists on making of Jing Mei a child prodigy. In the beginning, Jing Mei is excited about the possibility. She even likens herself to Jesus saying, "I was like the Christ child lifted out of the straw manger, crying with holy indignity" (Tan 1). When Jing Mei realizes she isn’t succeeding, she loses hope and so chooses not to succeed. In this she resents her mother for constantly trying to make of her something she is not.

The story is told in the first-person narrative, or subjective point of view. This is important as it leads the reader to sympathize with the narrator as well as setting up the protagonist/antagonist relationship of daughter and mother. In this case, Jing Mei narrates as an adult but through the eyes of a child, allowing the reader to draw upon his/her ow...


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...ith Jing Mei and her mother, it is compounded by the fact that there are dual nationalities involved as well. Not only did the mother’s good intentions bring about failure and disappointment from Jing Mei, but rooted in her mother’s culture was the belief that children are to be obedient and give respect to their elders. "Only two kinds of daughters.....those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind!" (Tan1) is the comment made by her mother when Jing Mei refuses to continue with piano lessons. In the end, this story shows that not only is the mother-daughter relationship intricately complex but is made even more so with cultural and generational differences added to the mix.


Work Cited

Tan, Amy. "Two Kinds." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 7th ed. N.J.: Pearson Education, 2004. 211-18.

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