“Two Kinds” by Amy Tan is a short story about a mother and her daughter who have different views on various issues in life. The story is about a young girl’s (named Jing-mei) refusal to her mother’s persistent urge to make her experience the American dream, which is the hope of most immigrants.
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The mother in the story held the opinion that her daughter was intelligent and thus attempted all means to ensure that the daughter became a music prodigy; however, the daughter turned her efforts down through taking advantage of her deaf music teacher and failed to do enough practice to perfect her skills in music. A literary analysis of the short story reveals that is an excellent work of literature.
The story, which is in the genre of conformity and rebellion, is the last of Tan’s loose collection of interrelated stories in his first successful novel The Joy Luck Club.
As hinted above, the story illustrates a conflict between two well-articulated positions wherein a rebel, on principle, meets head-on and fights against an established authority.
The main theme of the story is about the complicated relationships that exist between mothers and daughters in the contemporary society.
Specifically, the author intended to depict the complexities that exist between the Chinese mothers who hold to traditional principles and their American-born daughters who are in a dilemma either to fulfill the dictates of their Chinese tradition or to pursue the supposedly ‘good life’ in the United States.
To depict successfully the issue of supremacy and authority on the mother’s side and conformity and toughness on Jing-mei’s part, the author used the tone of rebellion and dissatisfaction.
The diverse life experiences, diverse approaches towards life, and diverse expectations in the story resulted in the tension between the mother and the daughter in the story; nonetheless, after the mother’s demise, the tone of the story changed to belated insight and remorse when the daughter realized the meaning of her mother’s assertion of “two kinds of daughters” in her.
In the story, the author constructed the mother daughter dynamic with the story’s protagonist, the young girl, having a round character.
The protagonist in the story appears to be a complicated character as she has both inner and outside clashed all through the entire story. On the other hand, the mother seems to be a bit controlling since she is the mother, an established center of authority, particularly in matriarchal Chinese society.
The author used various techniques to depict the setting of the story. The phrase, “The TV was old and the sound kept shouting out” (Tan, para.12) depicts the economic status of the family.
The majority of both temporal and social conditions are illustrated by means of the narration and description for the series of the events in the story such as the mother having come to the United States in 1949 and the use of reference of the names Shirley Temple and The Ed Sullivan Show.
Lastly, to increase the attention of the audience on the progress of the story, Tan used the narrator’s point of view. As the story’s main character, Jing Mei is also an omniscient narrator and she gives an account that is totally from her point of view.
Even though she does not know what her mother thinks, she gives a compelling portrayal of the dealings of her mother.
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Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” Angelfire.com. Angel Fire, n.d. Web.