I found Amy Tan’s short story, “Two Kinds”, to be an emotional and touching story. The protagonist is a young girl named Ni Kan. She receives a lot of pressure from her mother to be a prodigy. Ni Kan feels like she always disappoints her mother and will never be able to live up to her expectations. In the beginning of the story Ni Kan seems to have very low self esteem in the beginning of the story. Until one day after a fight with her mother she stares at her own reflection an promises herself that she wouldn’t let her mother change her into someone she’s not. I was surprised to read that a girl at such a young age would come to this realization and have the courage to stand up to er mother. I wonder why the mother was always trying to change Ni Kan into one of those prodigy children they saw on TV. It seems like she idolized these children. I also think that it had something to do with her own self esteem. If her child was a prodigy, she would had been the mother of a prodigy, quite an accomplishment in itself. Ni Kan’s mother always seemed to belittle other talented children. She never gave Ni Kan any encouraging words. I’m sure the fact that Ni Kan’s mother lost her family in China had something to do with her treatment towards Ni Kan. It was very sad to read that Ni Kan and her mother had a dysfunctional relationship. They always fought with each other. However, it was evident that Ni Kan’s mother loved Ni Kan and just simply wanted her to be the best she could be. Unfortunately Ni Kan’s mother
NOTE: I previously had the responses to “Who’s Irish?” and “Two Kinds” in one post. I just separated the two responses in two separate posts.
When reading I was surprised when she said “but there is no Dr. Neu.”(pg.175). Right there we can see her intelligence in confusing the readers. I have to say she did a good job making up the story. But finally she confesses her lies as we see her change as she finds peace in an AA group. She confesses that she is not an alcoholic but no-one believes her leaving the truth untold. The story ends with a surprise and with her recognitions.
Overall the story itself made Lauren seem so innocent but we finally see the truth about her. Now we understand why she lied all this time, because she never had the attention from her parents. She saw that lying and making up story’s about her sickness made everyone have attention on to her.
When reading this last section of the book I can see all the lies Lauren is capable of and has done throughout the book. When reading “but there is no Dr. Neu.”(pg.175) I was surprised that she lied about him throughout the book and made it sound so real. If Hayward Krieger, the professor of Philosophy, who supposedly had written the introduction of this book doesn’t exist and now we find out Dr. Neu doesnt exist either, I wondered if anyone else in this book that was mention doesn’t exist. Lauren’s childhood was the cause of her being the way she is because she never got the attention that she needed especially from her mother which is someone she really cares about. Her mother was practically never there when she needed her and missed out certain important events because she was always drunk. Lauren feels sad and lonely and just wants all the attention she never got when she was young so she feels the need to lie and does a good job at it.
Joining the AA group did well for Lauren because she starts to face reality and all the things she had done wrong. “my disease got worst. I started, you know, doing it at home, in school, all the time, just stumbling around and making a real fool of myself. When I think back on my behavior now, I am humiliated. Just humiliated.”(205) Lauren confessing to the AA group about her disease and how it got out of hand and now she realizes how she was making a fool of herself and how she is humiliated of everything she’s been through with the disease she says she has. “Well, I’m not surprised. I always knew you didn’t really have epilepsy. I always knew these seizures were just a thing you had to grow out of” (189) Lauren’s mom was very sure that Lauren didn’t really have epilepsy and that all Lauren had to do was grow up and see for herself that it was all in her head and not something that was really true. This goes back in the part when Lauren said she couldn’t see and her mom was like ofcourse you can see proving to Lauren that it was all in her head and she can actually see. Lauren’s mother and her childhood are an important key of what Lauren goes through in this memoir. She just seeks for attention and wants it always on her and since she can never get it, it becomes a habit of her lying which makes everything that she says questionable and whether if it’s true or just another lie.
“I said my name was Juliette Epstein, and that I had interviewed this student by the name of Lauren Slater”(171). This is the first time when the narrator openly accepts the fact that she made up a fictional character to fill the void. She tries too hard to accept the fact that “epilepsy” was behind most of her actions. On the next page Lauren says she is two separate people which can be the symbol of her saying that the outside version of her is telling all the lies and delusions while the inside tries hard to escape her inter wall through aruas.
Lauren was only lying to herself the whole time making it seem like she was having external conflicts but in fact the problem was internal. The AA meetings seemed to be the best possible solution to her problems like all the influences in the AA meetings help her overlook that she tried to cover up all of her problems with fake illnesses. Her power created a character whom I thought was real and his name was Dr. Nue, I found it funny when she didn’t like the fact that when didn’t like the other doctors answer she zoned out. “I’m not surprised. I always knew you didn’t really have epilepsy. I always knew these seizures were just a thing you had to grow out of.”(190)So all this time Ann knew that Lauren did not suffer from the illness proves how far she had to go and fix her problems.
Lauren’s exaggerations, lies truths come to a conclusion in the part four of the book which is the recovery. She invented characters, she changed her name, created situations where she becomes the center of attention ” I decided I should submit an interview like that to the campus news paper. I said my name was Juliette Epstein.” (172) Too many lies that makes the truth seem as a lie too. ” Six weeks later, “The Cherry Tree” came out in print. The interview did not come out in print. Of course, no one called.” (174) For a moment I believed she send this interview to be campus news paper because it sounded so real, but it was one more lie.
The narrator tries to warn the readers about the college counselor she went to see about her being unable to adjust to college life. “I handed him Dr. Neu’s paper. He read it, and he look at me. In my opinion, he read it very, very quickly, like maybe thirty seconds, a minute tops, so keep that in mind.”(175) That phrase “so keep that in mind” tries to preset in the reader’s mind a wrong idea about the psychologist and what ever happen out of that meeting the reader have to support the narrator’s point of view and reaction. Regardless of her intentions to support her reaction I was so surprise when the psychologist unmask her and confront her. “This, he said, this paper, he said, is not real”(175) if the paper is not real, so the person who wrote it. I feel that the entire book is one big lie.
The truth can’t be hiding forever, Lauren becomes part of an AA group and again just like the situation with college counselor she was confronted with reality and force to tell the truth and accept that her illness was a big lie and that she always wanted to be the center of attentions. “In a way, this memoir is like my fifth step. I am not an alcoholic and I may not really be an epileptic either.”
I was completely shocked when i read these lines ““I’m sorry, but there is no Dr.Neu.” (178) i couldnt believe that Dr.neu might not be true but merely just a made up person , this part just made me shut the book down completely, i have absolutely no trust on lauren anymore on anything that she says. I feel that lauren was trying to come to terms with herself and trying to express her personality but im not really sure what she is trying to show because it makes her unreliable nothing she says is true and her personality its coming off to be very deceitful.
I understand sort of why Lauren decided to join the AA group and lie that she is an alcoholic, yeah i get it that she wants attention but i feel she truly looks for attention that she doesnt need and attention that would never truly make her feel better, i feel lauren wants someone to pity her. It took me a while to notice that i understand what lauren is feeling, she has abandonment issues and thats something i suffer from. Lauren needs constant love and affection she didnt receive from her parents, i went almost 10 years without my parents in my childhood. Lauren doesnt suffer fro m none of the diseases that she claims to have, and the AA group thing cleared almost all of the question i had about her, Lauren has a huge whole in her heart and until she gets this she will continue to get worst and seek ‘love’ in the worst places.
the afterwards was trying to close the novel in a way to help the reader understand the course the novel took. I dont know if the lying really sent out the message that lauren really wanted to get across, the metaphors left me with more question and confusion of what truly did happened to her, what was the true reality for lauren, what really happened. The author succeed in writing a beautiful novel but failed to get laurens message across properly i was left with more questions than answers.
” What a metaphor expresses cannot be said directly or apart from it for if it could be, one would have said it directly. Here, metaphor is a strategy of desperation, not decoration” (169). Lauren expresses her epilepsy in both biological and spiritual explanation. Lauren states ” The biological explanation of my epilepsy is that a small scar formed on the left temporal lobe of my brain; the spiritual explanation is that God, in sculpting me from paste” (169). The only physical explanation is the scar from her surgery. But since Lauren’s surgery she never had any outburst of seizures, just feelings of auras. These auras lead Laura into writing, which took up most of her time to express her feelings for only a brief amount of time. Lauren eventually joined an AA group, were she met new people and convinced them her epilepsy was just like AA.Lauren began to accepted and loved, which is what she desperately longed for. Lauren’s desperation for attention drawn her to be apart of the AA group where she was a decoration instead of an actual member with real alcoholic drinking problems. Even though Lauren did participate in the AA group she really could not relate to the struggle the rest of the group had problems with. That is why when asked how long she had been sober for she did not know what to say,then questioning even herself why she was there. Lauren used her epilepsy as an excuse to join the AA group but all she wanted was attention.
Lauren’s relationship with male figures is currently directed towards Dr. Neu. Dr. Neu is Lauren’s pediatric doctor who performs her procedure on her brain. ” He had long talks with me in the hospital cafeteria, telling me I would his patient for years to come” (94). From Dr.Neu talks with Lauren, she began to create this future with him. Lauren would go into details about there visits, thinking she was the only one in his life and they would fall in love with each other. Lauren created these thoughts about Dr.Neu before the day of her surgery where she realized Dr. Neu was not the only one in his life. After facing the reality of Dr. Neu’s family Lauren was shocked and began to release some of her emotions,causing her to cry.
Lauren had an imaginary mind that seeks the attention to be loved. She even thought of steeling a baby, to become a baby.
” I didn’t want the baby, but to be the baby” (85).I think Lauren wanting to become a baby is from wanting to be loved. Babies are young, fragile and get attention from any and everyone. Babies also need people to depend on in order to live and survive. Lauren wanted to be the baby, to get all the attention and love, she wanted and missed from her mother and father. Lauren father was absent for most of the story and her mother was there but was to overwhelming with emotions causing friction between Lauren and her mother.
Finally Lauren reaches out to get help. I was actually happy for the narrator Lauren as towards the end she became more of herself. She sort of embraced the fact of who she was. Because Lauren went to the AA group of alcoholics she helps me as the reader understand that her illness was much more than an illness. It was definitely a comparison to what everyday people go through whether or not it’s a disease just like stated “everyone in AA was battling against this disease of alcoholism as I, too, had battled against the disease o epilepsy” . As the narrator starts off chapter eight she starts off with “I was born from nothing and to nothing I will return.” (169). As I states before I believe this is just her coming to terms that who she is what she will always be.
As I finished the book it basically left me with the terms of Lauren epilepsy being the definition of her wanting to gain attention. Whether she received the attention and then losing it, it was what caused her everyday trouble.
When Lauren visit the psychologist and he told her that the paper was a lie (176) “this, he said, this paper , he said , is not real” brought to my attention that it was one of her routines of where she thought she could once again gain attention from but it failed her. The book in my opinion was about her trying to get attention because of the fact she lacked it from the people who meant the most to her.
At newcomers’ night at the AA meeting, Lauren is urged to tell her story to everyone. Lauren wants to finally tell everyone the truth that she is not an alcoholic, but she is afraid of the risk of doing so. She don’t want to disappoint them or make the angry. She’s afraid of changing how the group sees her. She gets so scared that she “relapsed, just like an alcoholic” (204). She instead uses her words to tell the truth but bury it in the words with metaphor. She tells her story whole story but instead of epilepsy, she says she’s an alcoholic.She main point during her story was that “it’s a disease of relapse” (206). She is motivating/inspiring everyone in the group and helping them not to relapse, when she is relapsing by lying much more.
When Lauren does finally tell the truth to the group, she gets angry and feels “hate” (214). She feels this way because the group doesn’t believe her and thinks that she is just in denial about being an alcoholic. It infuriates her because they will never get to know the her real self.