Free Two Kinds by Amy Tan Essay Sample

The plot of Two Kinds develops from an unfavorable and a complex relationship between a daughter and mother. The story focuses on a young girl’s resistance towards her own mother’s American dream held by many immigrant parents for their children, usually associated with educational achievements, material success, and social fitness. The mother held the belief that her daughter, Jing Mei, was a genius and did her best to see her daughter turned into a music prodigy. The daughter did not take heed of her mother’s views by failing to practice enough and holding the determination of not trying to become the best pianist. It is evident from the plot that the Jing Mei’s mother is attempting to relive her life through her daughter.

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The title “Two Kinds” portrays the dominant theme of the short story. The mother asserted that there were only two kinds of daughters: the obedient daughter and the daughter who follows her own mind. Further, the “Two Kinds” is identical to a two-sided coin, with one side representing the mother, her Chinese heritage, and obedience that she attempts to infuse in her daughter because of her awful past. The other side of the coin signifies the daughter, her American heritage and the nonstop indignation that she used to ignore her mother’s past and her ties to Chinese traditions.

The story revolves around power and territory from the mother, and resilience and compliance from the daughter. The tone used in Two Kinds was of dissatisfaction and rebellion. Jing Mein and her mother had dissimilar life experiences, hopes and attitudes towards life, which played a significant role in creating unending tension between them throughout the story. At the end of the story, the tone changes to remorse and belated insight, when the daughter comprehended “they were two halves of the same song” and discovered the truth in her mother’s decree of “two kinds of daughters.”

With regard to characterization, it is evident that characters in the novel play a significant role towards its thematic development. The mother is controlling and exercises authority at home, which is typical of matriarchal Asian society. Jing Mei is a complicated character having both external and inner conflicts in the course of the story. The contrasting characterizations of the mother and daughter are central towards the development of the dominant theme portrayed in the title.

Jing Mei's reluctance to embrace her mother's vision of success reflects a broader theme of cultural dissonance experienced by many immigrant families. The clash between traditional expectations rooted in Chinese heritage and the allure of American individualism contributes to the intricate mother-daughter dynamics. The evolving tone in the conclusion, marked by remorse and belated insight, adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. It suggests that the journey towards understanding is not only a personal revelation for Jing Mei but also a commentary on the universal struggle of reconciling dual identities within the framework of immigrant experiences.

The title's metaphor of "two halves of the same song" encapsulates the intertwined destinies of the mother and daughter, highlighting the inevitability of their connection despite their contrasting approaches to life. This symbolism extends beyond their specific story, resonating with the broader immigrant experience and the ongoing negotiation between cultural heritage and assimilation. In delving into the power dynamics within the mother-daughter relationship, the narrative sheds light on the broader societal context of matriarchal Asian norms. The mother's authoritative role at home becomes a microcosm reflecting the traditional gender roles and expectations prevalent in certain cultural frameworks. The character of Jing Mei emerges as a microcosm of the larger struggle faced by individuals caught between two cultures. Her internal conflicts and resistance represent the tension inherent in navigating the expectations of the past while striving for autonomy in a new cultural landscape.

As the story unfolds, the characters serve as vessels for broader themes rather than isolated entities. Their interactions become a lens through which readers can explore the multifaceted dimensions of cultural identity, generational clashes, and the intricate dance between tradition and progress.


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