Two Kinds

2009 WordsDec 30, 20129 Pages
The central struggle in Amy Tan 's story "Two Kinds" is a battle of wills between the narrator, a young Chinese American girl, and her mother, a Chinese immigrant. "Two Kinds" is a coming-of-age story, in which the narrator, Jing-mei, struggles to forge her own sense of identity in the face of her strong-willed mother 's dream that she become a "prodigy." Jing-mei is caught between her Chinese mother 's traditional ideas about how to raise a daughter, and her own development as a Chinese American girl straddling two cultures. Like many immigrants to the United States, Jing-mei 's mother has created idealized visions of her adopted country as a land of opportunity where all dreams may be realized. The first line of the story introduces…show more content…
Such a sad, ugly girl! The face Jing-mei first sees in the mirror is the face of who she is in her mother 's eyes. "Trying to scratch out the face in the mirror" symbolizes her attempt to erase or obliterate her mother 's image of her as a failure. Through this acknowledgment to herself that she is not the person her mother wants her to be, she begins to glimpse an image of her own definition of herself emerging from the mirror. And then I saw what seemed to be the prodigy side of me--because I had never seen that face before. I looked at my reflection, blinking so I could see more clearly. The girl staring back at me was angry, powerful. This girl and I were the same. I had new thoughts, willful thoughts, or rather thoughts filled with lots of won 'ts. Through this insight, Jing-mei for the first time articulates her determination to live by her own self-definition, rather than those ill-fitting "selves" her mother continues to impose upon her: "I won 't let her change me, I promised myself. I won 't be what I 'm not." As the story progresses, Jing-mei becomes more and more openly defiant against her mother 's wishes. One night, she bursts out at her

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