Amy Tan's "Two Kinds".

Essay by crystmahonUniversity, Bachelor's October 2003

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In Amy Tan's short story "Two Kinds" we see the strained relationship between a Chinese immigrant mother and a first-generation American daughter. Throughout the text, Jing-mei's mother continually pushes her to become a prodigy. She is so obsessive of her daughter's excellence, that she does not see the emotional damage she creates. Jing-mei reacts negatively to the pressure. She becomes indifferent, angry, excited and hopeful; her emotions fluctuate, because she is in a perpetual struggle between her identity and the identity her mother tries to create for her. No one wins this tug-of-war; it only ends in anger and disappointment. Jing-mei sets out to become the direct opposite of what her mother wants. It just goes to show that forcefulness doesn't work in any situation.

In the beginning of the story, Jing-mei tries to do everything right. She goes along with her mother's nearly impossible tests, tries to become Shirley Temple's double and generally maintains a good attitude about her mother's constant prompting.

"In all of my imaginings I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect," she said. Jing-mei tried to convince herself that she could become what her mother wanted her to be. Despite the attempts made by Jing-mei, she always seems to fall short of her mother's expectations. Her mother relentlessly pushes her, because she wants her daughter to be more successful than she is. She feels that in America, anything is possible if you try hard and practice. This is true for many things; however, becoming an overnight prodigy is not one of them.

It doesn't take Jing-mei long to realize that she will never fulfill her mother's demands. She is hurt because she feels that her mother does not accept her for the person that she is. Her mother's failed...