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Essay on The Duality of the American Dream in Amy Tan’s Two Kinds

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For millions of immigrants, America has been seen as the land of opportunity where anyone could become anything he or she wanted to be. A family that believes strongly in the American dream can be found in Amy Tan’s short story, “Two Kinds.” The story centers around the daughter of a Chinese immigrant who desperately wants her daughter to become successful. In the story, the author shows the difficult lives immigrants face when moving to a new culture. In this short story, the theme shows the protagonist’s conflict with her mother on the type of daughter her mother wants her to be. The author establishes the theme of how difficult mother-daughter relationships can be through characterization, setting, and symbolism. Primarily, Tan…show more content…
The angry tone in the beginning leads to tension, but ends on a softer note once Jing-mei is older and learns to be more sympathetic. The setting of the story helps the theme become more realistic. In addition to setting, the author uses symbols to strengthen the theme of the story. In the story, the mother buys Jing-mei a piano on which to practice. The mother and Jing-mei have different perspectives on what this symbol means. To Jing-mei, the piano symbolizes her mother trying to change her into something other than herself; however, the piano symbolizes the American dream to her mother. Eventually as Jing-mei ages, she could see her mother’s idea on what the piano means and learns to appreciate the piano. When Jing-mei is a woman, “[she] realized that [“Pleading Child” and “Perfectly Contended”] were two halves of the same song” (Tan 9). As Critic Cynthia Becerra states, “the self-realization completes this rich vignette, it is not without pain and loss.(Becerra)” This realization shows how she learns that her mother only has high aspirations for her. The symbolical piano helps the theme by showing the contrasting views between the mother and the daughter in their relationship. Furthermore, Amy Tan writes a wonderful short story about the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, yet one can be enriching. The theme of “Two
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