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Transformation to Womanhood in Two Kinds
For a lot of us growing up, our mothers have been an integral part of what made us who we are. They have been the one to forgive us when no one else could. They have been the one to comfort us when the world seemed to turn to evil. They have been the one to shelter us when the rain came pouring down. And most importantly, they have been the one to love us when we needed it the most. In "Two Kinds," by Amy Tan, Jing-mei is a young daughter of a Chinese immigrant. Growing up she had to endure being raised by an overbearing mother as well as deal with psychological struggles within herself. She had to learn how to become a woman on her own terms.
Throughout the story, her mother repeatedly pressures Jing-mei to be something that she is not. She wants Jing-mei to somehow become a prodigy child. She has such high hopes for her daughter that she doesn't realize the amount of distress she causes Jing-mei. Like all good mothers, she only wants the best for her child.
Since immigrating to America, she believes that anything can be accomplished and she uses her daughter as her outlet to prove it. She continuously gives Jing-mei numerous tests to memorize bible passages and world capitals, and eventually coerces her into taking piano lessons, which becomes the prime focus of her 'perfect daughter' determination.
Jing-mei reacts extremely negatively to this pressure. This is only exemplified when she states, "'I won't let her change me, I promised myself. I won't be what I am not." She is forced to take a stance against her mother primarily because she doesn't want to be forced into becoming something that she is not. Jing-mei feels she must become her true self, a person whom she feels her mother is not to determine for her.
Jing-mei feels uncomfortable with her mother putting so much pressure on her. She is on a continuous struggle within herself to find who she really is. She is constantly distraught over torn feelings of wanting to become her true self and making her mother proud. Still, as time goes on it proves to be better to go against the tide, go against her mother's wishes. "And after seeing my mother's disappointed face once again, something inside of me began to die.
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By the end of the story the outlook on these pressures take a different turn. Jing-mei has matured from a girl into a woman and, as a peace offering, her mother offers to give her the piano-the main object of adversity between the two of them. This offers her the realization that she has become herself on her own terms, even with all of this hardship .
In this story, the piano symbolizes different things for the two of them. For Jing-mei, it symbolized the unwanted stress her mother inflicts upon her, the pressure to become someone she is not. And, for her mother it symbolizes the hope in the child, the hope that she will become a prodigy child, the hope that coming to America gave her. "America was where all my mother's hopes lay.'' This statement only reiterates this free hope America and the piano gave her.
The piano piece she had once struggled to play as a child was entitled "Pleading Child" and was very slow and difficult. She saw that on the next page was a song called "Perfectly Contented" which was quick and happy. These were two halves of the same song, which is symbolization to her life. During her childhood she had felt dissatisfied with her life and with the choices she was forced to make. As an adult she was offered the piano she had found her inner peace. She had reconciled the issues of her failures and knew that her mother never considered them failures. It was just the love from a mother that she had for her daughter. The two songs symbolized her transformation into becoming the woman she now is.