Book Review: Two Kinds a Story by Amy Tan

Two kinds is a story written by Amy Tan. It is a short story from a club known as joy luck club. It was published in the year 1989 in February in the Atlantic. This story is about a Chinese mother who, in the old years, lived in China and then later migrated to America after she lost almost everything in china, starting from the death of her mother, her father, her first husband, their home, and also her two twin daughters. They got a daughter named who was born in America called Jing-Mei. Jing-Mei seems to be the main character in this story (Shen 3-16). In this research essay, we will discuss the mother-to-daughter relationship and also the cultural differences that arise in the expectation of a parent for her child, as is brought out clearly in this short story by Amy Tan. What is the conflict between the parents and their children about their life expectations?

The central ideology of the short story by Amy Tan is the American dream or opportunities. Jing-Mei’s mother has a dream for her daughter to become a great person, a rich person, and can also famous. “You wanted to be in America. You could open a restaurant. You could work for the government and get good retirement. You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become rich. You could become instantly rich.” All these were the dreams of the mother to her daughter Jing-Mei. Her mother had great expectations from her daughter about the opportunities in America, which could lead to his daughter living a successful life without struggles. This clearly shows when the narrator says, “America was where all my mother’s hope lays.” This means Jing-Mei’s mother had a strong sense of belief and expectations for her daughter. She could even cry tears and get his life sacrificed for her daughter’s progress, where she saves much money to buy her a piano to try and fulfill his dream expectation. However, her daughter has not had the same intentions as her mother. “of course, you can be a prodigy, too,” her mother said to her daughter, referring to her as an unusually talented daughter who can train herself with hardworking.

Talking of the mother’s dream for her daughter, she could listen to or watch television shows and come up with an idea of her daughter becoming one of the actors or musicians in the shows. Jing-Mei’s mother wanted to train her daughter to know a positive attitude and how she thinks in her mind, so she could become whatever she wanted. In terms of the conflict that arises in this short story is one that is between the narrator, who is, of course, the main character in this story, and her mother. There are indications of conflict that are there. Different cultural backgrounds signify potential conflict between the narrator and her mother (Tse 185-200). this is in terms of where everyone is raised. While the first-person narrator was born and raised in America, her mother was born and reared in China. Because America is regarded as the country of possibility and dreams, her mother thought the first-person narrator would be a prodigy. In other words, the narrator might be anyone she sets her mind to be from the mother’s perspective. Her mom arrived in San Francisco, a city where everyone could build a life for themselves.

In Amy Tan’s short story “Two Kinds,” Jing-Mei and her mother are experiencing a cultural clash that causes Jing-Mei to have a different perspective on the world and different morals. Because, unlike my mother, I did not think I could be anything other than who I am. ” I could only be me.’. (Tan 24). One can tell from her sentence that she disagrees with her mother. As a result of her upbringing in Chinese culture, Jing-mother Mei’s is exceptionally severe and demands that Jing-Mei follow her instructions. Any activity, including hobbies or even Jing-passion. Mei Jing-Mei, on the other hand, was born in America and had a stronger affinity for American culture, which makes her seem disobedient to her mother.

The message in this story is reached out to the readers by use of themes that are outlined, including the theme of hope of the mother to her daughter that she would become a great person. Symbolism is also used in this story. For instance, the piano is a symbol used to mirror the things happening to Jing-Mei at his young age with her parents by being pressured to become what they wanted instead of her becoming or being herself. The theme of love is also clearly described in the story—the love of a mother towards her daughter. Jing-Mei’s mother wanted the best outcomes for her daughter. There is no denying that Jing-Mei’s mother works extremely hard. however, she does not seem to comprehend that not every child is a prodigy, and Jing-Mei likely realizes she is not one. Even though she occasionally desires to be one (Ebertz 1). which could be true for many kids. the hope that they may one day be recognized as being unique, talented, or distinct from their peers. To show love to her daughter, Jing-Mei’s mother even takes a step ahead of taking her daughter to a beauty training school when she hears of the idea of the Shirly temple. The theme of rebellion is also clearly outlined when Jing-Mei refuses or rebels against whatever her mother tells her of what she should do or become.

The ending of this story is interesting. It shows a sign of the realization of the narrator of what she can become. Jing-Mei finds it simpler to give up than to persevere with something that she would not necessarily be good at as a prodigy. Jing-Mei not playing the piano once more is also intriguing. Not until her mom passes away. Likely, Jing’s confidence was sufficiently shaken to make playing the piano difficult. This reminds her of her failings. The end point of it is also interesting as the author tends to bring out the issue or the theme of acceptance that shows or states that whenever Jing goes to play the piano in her parent’s house, it reveals that she had no bad or negative feelings towards her mother despite the conflict that had arisen between her and her mother when she was a young girl and the pressure she had from her mother.

To sum up, the story tries to bring out the real issue in our societies where most parents get to expect and have good dreams for their children. However, this is not the case for many children who do not like the idea or seem to go hand-in-hand with what they want to be in the future. This, in turn, leads to children’s rebellion against their parents. The parents later realize this when they are very late. Not every child can do whatever the parent wants them to do based on where they live or where they are brought up. Based on the cultural background and the parent’s dreams, they should not have strong expectations of their children. They may end up being disappointed.

Works Cited

Shen, Gloria, and B. Harold. “Born of a Stranger: Mother-Daughter Relationships and Storytelling in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.” Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations: Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (2009): 3-16.

Tse, Lucy. “The effects of ethnic identity formation on bilingual maintenance and development: An analysis of Asian American narratives.” International journal of bilingual education and bilingualism 3.3 (2000): 185-200.

Ebertz, Cinthia. “Family Loyalty in Literature: The Inner Conflicts We Encounter in Dealing with Family Relationships.” JCCC Honors Journal 6.1 2015: 1.

Author: Shannon Lee
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