Two Kinds is a short story by Amy Tan in the book The Joy Luck Club. Tan writes about the intricacy of a daughter and mother relationship who migrated from China to America. The short story is about a Chinese-American girl named Jing-mei. Jing-mei lived in American and her mother believed that, as long as one lives in America, he/she can be anything she could ever wish to be and therefore, she was working hard to find her daughter’s talent. Jing-mei’s mother constantly tests her daughter for any talent, but any time she tries, no talent is found. The lack of talent stressed both Jing-mei and her mother and she decided never to try to have any talent because she felt disappointed in herself. Jing-mei mother wanted her daughter to become a musical prodigy, but her aspirations were thwarted by her daughter.
Two Kinds is a story that explains Amy Tan’s childhood as a Chinese immigrant being molded into an American girl. She talks of how she was forced to take piano lessons in order to meet the American dream of becoming successful in “the promise land.” It was after her mother saw Chinese girls playing piano on the television and she decided to have the new dream of the piano to her daughter (Nelson 45). Jing-mei never liked her mother’s idea of wanting her to be someone she could not be. She says, “Why don’t you like me the way I am? I’m not a genius! I can’t play the piano. And even if I could, I wouldn’t go on TV if you paid me a million dollars” (Charters 89). Amy Tan just wanted to be herself no matter how her mother pushed her. Amy recounts her life experiences in this short story as she narrates in her own words. After her mother’s death, Amy Tan writes how she could watch the piano and recount the agony she went through but she played it perfectly this time round even though she had failed during the talent show. Her mother’s character depicts the theme of the story which is finding identity. Despite the fact that Jing-Mei’s mother did not know her identity, she forced her daughter into acquiring a new identity of becoming an American, yet she was Chinese.
Amy tan’s story is told in first person point of view whereby the protagonist tells her story as she looks back at her life. Jing-mei tells her childhood story and how she was disappointed in herself, nonetheless, the story is educative because, she clearly shows the audience that, ambitions cannot be forced. When one reads the story, he/ she is able to identify with the protagonist in both her happy and sad moments. The protagonist tells of how she had to face disappointments after being forced by her mother to be what she could not be and she looks back at her life. Tan explains how Jing-mei was seeking approval from her parents for what she could not do and she felt that her father did not notice her. Jing-mei tried all she could in order to get her parents approval; she says “My mother and father would adore me. I would be beyond reproach. I would never feel the need to sulk for anything” (Tan 1222). She felt that if she met her parents’ expectations, they will love her and appreciate her. The protagonist was so anxious to reach her parents expectations but she never met them making the reader to sympathize with her in her disappointments.
There are a number of important characters in the short story; the protagonist is Jing-mei, Amy Tan herself. She is also the narrator in the story who tells the story about her life. Jing-mei is depicted as a rebellious Chinese girl who has found herself between two cultures, Chinese and American. She resists her mother plea of learning the piano and becoming a music genius. Her mother is the antagonist and she plays an important role in the story because, the whole story is built on her determination to give her daughter a new identity. Suyuan Woo migrated from China to America with her daughter and her ambitions of achieving anything one wanted led to the failure of her daughter. The antagonist wanted her daughter to achieve everything she wanted even without caring about how her daughter feels. She is used to depict mothers who push their children into becoming what they cannot and thus end up ruining their lives. Nonetheless, Jing-mei was able to Apart from her mother, there is Jing-mei’s father who played a minor role in the play but it was evident that he was disappointed in her daughter. However, he is not totally involved in the mother daughter conflict in the story. There is a Mr. Chong nicknamed Old Chong by Jing-mei; he was her piano teacher who was slow and deaf. Other notable characters in the story are Lindo Jong who Jing-mei referred to as Auntie Lindo, her mother’s close friend and her daughter Waverly Jong who was Amy’ age met. Waverly Jong is used in the story to depict a young girl who brags about her achievements thus making the other part feel like a failure. Waverly was a chess champion and she bragged about it to Jing-mei and humiliated her, which made her feel bad about her not becoming a piano genius.
The protagonist depicts her mother’s characterization through her philosophy that people “could be anything you wanted to be in America.” She believed in this and she forced her daughter into doing things that made Jing-mei loose her self-esteem. By her beliefs, Jing-mei’s mother forces her to try new stuff in order to make it America. Amy Tan writes about the dialogue she once had with her mother when she argued with her that she is not a genius. Huntley writes that, the mother asks her, “Who ask you be genius?” she insists to her that she wants her to be the best and not a genius (94). With the words, the mother is trying to put emphasis on her daughter to become the best for her own sake. All she wanted was for her daughter to listen to her advice and use it to become a better person.
Amy Tan uses symbolism in her short story for instance the piano and the girl. The author uses the piano to symbolize a mother’s desire to give her daughter a bright future. The antagonist was convinced that her daughter had a talent and that she could help her nurture the talent and become a better person in America. In addition, the piano symbolizes the Jing-mei’s deception to both her mother and her teacher by making them deem that she was working hard in her piano lessons, yet she was just pretending and not practicing anything. She deceived them for a long time without them realizing. In addition, the piano represents Jing-mei’s mother who insisted on making her daughter famous. Moreover, there are the two songs which symbolize the two kinds of daughters her mother was talking about in the story, the obedient and the pleading daughters.
Two Kinds by Amy Tan is a tale that explores the relationship between a mother and child. The protagonist tells the story as she looks back at her childhood experiences with her mother. In addition, it talks of the conflict between mother and daughter, which was the piano lessons. Amy Tan explores Jing-mei’s personality as her mother tries to make her into something that she could never become. The author gives an account of her life and how she had to overcome the low self-esteem she had gained after her mother was disappointed in her. After her mother’s death, she realized her mother’s words about two halves but it was already too late. Jing-mei was able to play the piano very well at the age of thirty after her mother’s demise. It is a story about a Chinese girl with her immigrant mother.
Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. 7th ed. Boston:Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 1222-1230. Print.
Charters, Ann. The Story and Its Writer: an Introduction to Short Fiction. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2011. Print.
Bloom, Harold. Amy Tan. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2001. Print. Huntley, E. D. Amy Tan: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Print.
Nelson, Emmanuel. S. Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. Print.
This Book Review on "Free Literature Review Of Two Kinds By Amy Tan" was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Please send request the removal if you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on EduPRO.