Two Kinds

Short Story, Critical Analysis of Two Kinds

Amy Tan's two kinds is a short story which dipicts the relationship between an immigrant mother, an American daughter and their inability to understand each other. Although most mother/daughter relationships have difficult times, when neither side is willing to bend, sometimes in winning the battle, you lose the war.

The story "two Kinds" is set in Chinatown, in Sacramento, in the late 50's to early 60's. Jing-Mei is a young Chinese girl who's mother has come from China to America to find a better life. Jing Mei's mother wants her to be a child prodigy. Jing-Mei just wants to discover who the real her is. At first, Jing-Mei tires to be what her mother wants her to be. Her mother tests her constantly, but eventually Jing-Mei becomes frustrated from all the failed attempts, and decides she will no longer do what her mother wants. Jing-Mei gives up on herself, believing she can't succeed, which ultimately causes her mother to give up on her. Jing-Mei realizes that what hurt her the most was her mother giving up on her.

In trying to please her mother, Jing-Mei's self image is lowered. Everyday her mother would read about a new child prodigy then could try to test Jing-Mei to see if she could do what the child prodigy could do. At first Jing-Mei wants to find her prodigy, but after many failed attempts, she reveals how she hated the tests, "The raised hopes and failed expectations". Another example of her self image being lowered is when Jing-Mei learned to play the piano, she says, "So maybe I never really gave myself a fair chanace". And again, Jing-Mei proves her low self image when she reveals that she believed that she could not do anything as her mother had said< "for unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to".

Jing-Mei's mother who cleans houses for a living, wants her daughter to have a better life than she had. Her mother was born and raised in China. After losing everything, including her husband and children,
Jing-Mei mother decided to come to America in 1949. She believed that America was the land of opportunity, where a person could become anything he or she wanted to be. She wants Jing-Mei to become the best at something to ensure her success. When Jing-Mei becomes defiant, her mother tells her "onlyu two kinds of daughters, those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind", and tells her daughter "only one kind of daughter can live in this house, "obedient daughter".

In a series of scenes, Jing-Mei goes from being an "obedient" dauthger to one with a mind of her own. As the story begins, Jing-Mei wants and hopes to become the prodigy her mother says she can be. "I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect". After watching Shirley Temple on the TV, Jing-Mei' mother tells her that she can be like her, she takes her to a beauty school where she can be made to look like Shirley Temple. By the time the beauty shcool is through with her, Jing-Mei ends up with a Peter Pan haircut instead. Jing-Mei still has hopes of becoming famous, she says "I liked the haircut and it made me actually look forward to my future fame". Jing-Mei's mother would read about child prodigies and tell Jing-Mei "of course you can be prodigy too". Every night Jing-Mei and her mother would sit at the kitchen table, where Jing-Mei would be given different types of tests in hopes of finding her prodigy side.

Jing-Mei would fail the tests, one by one, each time seeing the disappointment on her mother's face. She realized "something inside of me began to die". When Jing-Mei takes a close look at herself in the mirror, whe comes to a realization, "I saw only my face staring back- and [knew] that it would always be this ordinary face". She becomes rebellious and decides that she will no longer attempt to pass any of her mother's tests. She will not let her mother make her into something that she could not be. "I will not let her change me," she said; "I won't be what I am not".

Jing-Mei's mother decides to have her take piano lessons. She knows an elderly gentelman who