Two Kinds by Amy Tan

Two kinds talks about the conflict Jing-mei–who is also the narrator–and her mother had when they first came to America in 1949. As an immigrant myself I understand the struggle the transition they had to experience and how they had to manage with what the country has to offer. Jing-mei’s mother saw her daughter as an escape route and a form of bragging her daughter to other Chinese women, for example in page 1226 when she was speaking to Auntie Lindo–her mothers friend–outside of church, they were both bragging about how special their daughters were.

This story i had a hard time empathizing with because although i am an immigrant but my family doesn’t treat their children in this way, yes they want the best for them and they apply pressure in order for it to be done but they give room for expression and exploration to what they want to become. I didn’t like the way Jing-mei behaved toward her mother, she was doing everything wrong the best that she could in order to disappoint her mother. After her mom lost everything in china, her first husband, her daughter and twin baby girls, Jing-mei being her only daughter right now should feel the need to comfort her mother and try to keep her happy. Her mother did everything to get her daughter opportunities that most kids don’t get to experience and she still managed to do these things even when she couldn’t afford to do so.

Jing-mei was determine to find her own voice in America, in which she had the right because in America that is what is promoted, yet her mom felt that she knew what her daughter should be in life. When making her an all-knowing genius didn’t work , her mother turned to the piano ignoring her daughters pleading against it. This strongly show’s how a culture can clash with one another, Jing-mei’s mother still kept the Chinese customs that the children should always be obedient and have to do everything that the parents command of them to do, and Jing-mei obtained the American attitude that you have all the years to discover yourself and figure out what you want to do, and rebel and fight for what you believe in. Even though she took it to an extreme when in page 1228 she snapped at her mother telling her she wishes she wasn’t her daughter and that she should of died with everyone else who died in China.

What i didn’t like is trying to keep up with the years that passed, it wasn’t clear when she mentioned “In the years that followed”, well how many years exactly? I wanted to know at what age she became mature enough to understand her mother and why she did what she did. The way she announced her mothers death showed very little sentimental value in her heart, she expressed her mothers passing with her saying that she needed to recondition the piano that her mom gave her and expressed she did it for pure sentimental reasons, yet didn’t feel the need to mention her moms passing for more than two lines in the story–it just showed she did not care, or at least not enough.

When she finally got the nerve to touch the piano she finally realized something her mother was trying to show her all along, how two different things could join together in harmony.

It was a good read, i just didn’t like the selfishness of Jing-mei and how she snapped and broke her mothers heart, it clashes with my strong feelings about families staying together, being strong and helping each other.

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