Amy Tan’s short story “Two Kinds” illustrates a young girls struggle with her highly opinionated mother and finding her own way. Jing-Mei’s mother continually enforces Jing-Met to carry out tasks the way she wants her to, her way. Therefore Jing-Mei is unable to grow as her own person and carry out the choices she wants to. Throughout Jing-Mei’s journey she begins to develop negative thoughts of herself and displays the attributes of insecurity, stubbornness and cruelty.
Jing-Mei’s stubbornness encourages her to believe her mother is being unfair and cruel, “when [her] mother had told [her] this, [she] felt as though [she’s] been sent to hell. ” When in reality, all her mother is doing is guiding her so she won’t have to go through the hardships she herself had gone through (Page 5). Jing-Mei has no desire to cooperate with her mother. She fights with her every way she can, determined to extinguish her mother’s dreams of her becoming successful, Jing-Mei neglects her studies as well as the piano.
Jing-Mei believes her mother is trying to change her, Jing-Mei states “I won’t let her change me… I won’t be what I’m not…” despite her mother’s real intentions of her becoming successful (Page 3). Jing-Mei feels she must reject her mother in order to find herself “right then and there, [she] was determined to put a stop to her foolish pride. ” however, in doing so, she is rejecting her heritage and identity (Page 7).
Suyuan Woo’s constant criticism hands Jing-Mei the idea of lack of affection, which results in Jing-Mei’s insecurity. Suyuan’s values of family obedience, concealment of unnecessary emotions, and criticism as expressions of love contrast with Jing-Mei’s American ideas of independence, self-esteem and open expressions of love guide Jing-Mei’s belief of never fulfilling her mother’s expectations. Therefore, Jing-Mei constantly puts herself down “[she] looked in the mirror… [she] began to cry, such a sad ugly girl! due to misunderstanding her mother’s intentions (Page 3). Her mother’s high expectations and criticism are her way of expressing love and faith in her daughter. Jing-Mei misunderstands her mother’s actions which lead her to the conclusion that she will “never be the kind of daughter [her mother] wants her to be” and leads her to the question of “why don’t you like me the way I am? I am not a genius! ” (Page 10,5).
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