Two kinds by amy tam

Essay by jdee April 2004

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"Two Kinds"--taken from the book "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan--is a story about a mother who always has a wish that Jing-Mei, her nine-year-old daughter, would become a prodigy. Coming to America with only two bare hands left after losing everything in China, Jing-Mei's mother doesn't hesitate to start the life all over again by cleaning people's houses. Moreover, she never feels regretful when looking back at the past because there always exists in her a very positive belief that in America everybody has great chances to make wonderful lives and to make dreams come true. "My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America. You could open a restaurant. You could... You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become instantly famous." Her only expectation is that Jing-Mei could learn a skill and be best at it so that they both could be proud of the achievement.

In fact, she is willing to trade her housecleaning services for Jing-Mei to have weekly lessons and a borrowed piano to practice. She even saves up money to buy Jing-Mei a piano although it is only a used one. Yet very unexpectedly, all those energy and hopes still can't make Jing-Mei be interested in piano probably because she does not pick the right kind of prodigy for Jing-Mei. Jing-Mei might not like playing piano, and more especially she is the kind of daughter who doesn't want to be forced to become somebody that she thinks she is not. This story has effectively and vividly brought out the cultural and generational conflicts at different angles between a parent and a child, between the young and old in a Chinese family. In this conflict between a mother and her young daughter, readers...