"Two Kinds" by Amy Tan.

Essay by buckmaster411College, Undergraduate October 2003

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For many of us growing up, our mothers have been an integral part of what made us who we are. They have been the one to forgive us when no one else could. They have been the one to comfort us when the world seemed to turn to evil. They have been the one to shelter us when the rain came pouring down. And most importantly, they have been the one to love us when we needed it the most. In "Two Kinds," by Amy Tan, Jing-mei is a young daughter of a Chinese immigrant. Growing up she had to endure being raised by an overbearing mother as well as deal with psychological struggles within herself. She had to learn how to become a woman on her own terms. Throughout the story, her mother repeatedly pressures Jing-mei to be something that she is not. She wants Jing-mei to somehow become a prodigy child.

However, this brought a question to my attention. Can you turn a child into a prodigy or our gifted children just born with these characteristics? Apparently, Jing-mei's mother believes you can create a prodigy and continuously gives Jing-mei numerous tests to memorize bible passages and world capitals, and eventually coerces her into taking piano lessons.

The mother's dominance over the daughter is apparent; in fact, Jing-mei barely mentions her father, who also lives there. The mother says, "You can be anything 'you' want to be." The "you," of course, refers to her daughter, but is she really concerned about her daughter or herself? The mother's objective has less to do with securing her daughter's future than it does with her own desire for status within the social structure of Chinese-American women. After a devastating talent show, Jing-mei's mother feels hurt and embarrassed.