"I won't let her change me, I promised myself. I won't be what I'm not." This is what Jing-mei said to herself after taking one of her mothers difficult tests of intelligence. Since Jing-mei promised herself to never let her mother change her, she alone was determined to find her real self. If a person is always doing the opposite of someone else because they are trying to be an individual, then how does one find their real self? Jing-mei cannot find her true self, because of her negative reactions against her mother.
Jing-mei's mother moved them to America when she was a child. In America, her mother dreamed that Jing-mei could be anything she wanted to be, and have the opportunities that she did not have. Jing-mei's mother had crazy ideas such as wanting Jing-mei to be the next Shirley Temple to being the next prodigy kid.
Jing-mei was okay with this at first, but as her mother pushed and pushed Jing-mei to the breaking point. The disappointment of failing her mother started to wear on Jing-mei. That is when she told herself she would never let her mother change her into what she was not.
An important bond between mother and child was lost at this point. This was a time in growing when it was important for her mother to guide and give direction in her daughter's life. Instead it pushed her into rebellion. Her mother chose all of Jing-mei's interests for her. In fact, her mother tells her that there are only two kinds of daughters, "Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!" In America you can be anything you want to be. Those were her mother's reasons...