Saturday, November 21, 2009

Compelled to Rebel (an analysis of Amy Tan's "Two Kinds")


Children find it essential to impress their parents. The thought of a mother or father beaming with pride, for them, is pure ecstasy. In Amy Tan’s, “Two Kinds,” Jing-mei is forced by her mother to become a prodigy. After failing many “tests” that her mother would put her through, she began to resent being a prodigy. At this point, Jing-mei starts to rebel. Her newfound stubbornness is a direct result of her mother’s lack of praise for her.
We see the longing for praise first hand when Jing-mei imagines herself as a prodigy. She believes that her parents will adore her and she’ll be beyond reproach. In this brief instance of daydreaming, we notice that the thing she cares about most about becoming a prodigy is the pride her parents will have for her. This is true for any child. Even in cases in which the parent does not encourage the child to make something of his or herself, the child will still try to impress them. After attempting to recite a bible verse, Jing-mei sees disappointment on her mother’s face. It becomes more than she can bear. She realizes that she does not want to be a prodigy and vows to not let her mother change her.
The struggle between Jing-mei and her mother is much more extreme than the average struggle between parent and child. What probably contributed to Jing-mei’s mother’s drive is her loss of everything she had in China. She only wanted Jing-mei to make something of her life since she had the chance to, unlike the children she had lost. In “Two Kinds”, mother and daughter both added to the conflict between one another. Jing-mei contributed by not putting forth enough effort and disobeying her mother. Her mother added to the conflict by forcing her to be a prodigy and not praising her when she did try.

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