Amy Tan wrote the short story Two Kinds. This story tells the memories of Jing-mei, a child and Suyian Woo, her mother during their childhood. Amy Tan reveals Jing-mei struggles between the Chinese ancestry and success expectations. This story has an important setting since it depicts the Chinese immigrants’ high expectations when all people in America were hoping that they would be successful.
It is important to note that the setting of this story is the San Francisco of the 1950s. Like the other places in America, there were clear impacts of the World War II in San Francisco. Therefore, the setting of this story makes it easy for the reader to understand the Asian immigrants’ expectations. This was the first year for them to be in the U.S.
Jing-mei gets several advantages. A family piano is the major advantage. Jing-mei is given this piano as a gift by her mother in her 30th birthday. Her mother, Suyuan said silently that he saw the capacity of Jing-mei which would enable her to emerge as a skilled pianist. However, she had to try. Jing-mei decided to tune the piano after her mother’s death. She also gets the advantage of a caring mother. Suyuan wants her daughter to realize the best in her life.
This is demonstrated by the way she wants her daughter to take piano lessons. As such, Jing-mei will not endure hardships similar to those of her mother. However, she becomes disadvantaged when her mother dies. Her death is unexpected and it is only after she dies that the child realizes what she wanted for her. It is at this time that she discovers the perfectly contented song after the death of her mother. However, this was too late.
This story by Tan reveals a typical mother-daughter conflict. Children, more so girls have conflicts with mothers who guide them on the way to live in most cultures. Daughters have conflicts with mothers because they do not accept the dreams of their mothers or simple guidelines that they give them. Jing-mei is depicted as a girl that is cruel to her mother.
She strikes her with a strong weapon. This is a reminder of a central tragedy. Typically, this reveals conflict that exists between mothers and daughters. Whether parents are correct or misguided, daughters do not see the essence of cooperating with their mothers’ plans. This is not only the case in America but in others cultures across the world as well.
In the last paragraph, Jim-mei discovers what the songs that she had rejected are about. The left-hand side song is known as the “Pleading Child” and the right-hand side song is called “Perfectly Contented”. It is at this time that she discovers that both are halves that make one song when she plays them for some time. The meaning of this paragraph is that a “Pleading Child” could not or cannot be “Perfectly Contented”. This is due to the fact that she cannot explain the difficulties that her mother experienced with her.
While struggling with her mother, she also struggles with personal identity. For instance, it is impossible to understand Jing-mei’s identity whether American, Chinese or both. This story reveals the attempt by daughters to find a place within the world.
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