An Analysis of Amy Tan’s Two Kinds
Amy Tan wrote `Two kinds` as the last story in her famous book, `TheJoy Luck Club`. Here, she describes the challenges of amother-daughter relationship in a small town known as China-town, SanFrancisco. Additionally, the focal point of the story is unrulythough inevitable. There exists a heritage nonconformity that makesChinese parents flee their country, China during the revolution ofthe communist culture. They decided to start a new life in the smalltown (Tan 222) and a result, the native and the foreign ways of lifehave trapped their children due to the differences between the twocultures (Critical Analysis of Two Kinds | Jotted Lines). Thepredecessors of these kids expect them to carry on with their nativeland ancestry whereas the American society expects the kids to actalong the American norms. This essay tries to show that Amy wasindeed right in her work as the story is a powerful tool that exposesthe predicaments of birth identity as well as the society in theAmerican way of life. Living in a society that is caught up betweentwo cultural practices comes with major problems as one is forced toremain along the native way of life and as well observe theprovisions of the foreign culture in order to be considered morallyupright.
At the heart of the narration, there exists a civil disparitydepicted by the paradox of mass migration. The author employs theconcepts of regenerative and assimilated ethnic meaning to impairthoroughly and rearrange the impression of ethnic vitality. Besides,the homology of native-outlander represents the mother-daughterconnection. Tan has also used the element of departure and returnwhere the protagonist finally returns to the ideology of her mothertowards the end of the narrative (Tan 229).
This fictive creates a society by keeping memories of their oldculture alive. The almost buried native way of life and the ‘modern’American enlightenment are a dilemma for the residents of China-townas seen with the protagonist and her mother. Parents and theirdaughters are desperately trying to catch up and restore their longgone deeds by taking actions that end up frustrating them. Instead,they end up discovering that it is too late to comprehend their legitmotives, feelings and moments with one another. Femininity is alsotouched at large and so is ethnicity. Furthermore, the aspect ofseparation from mothers and the competitiveness of the connectionrepresent a foreigner’s life.
The central themes in this story are peer group variations in thenative and foreign communities and mother-daughter bond. The title ofthe play has a significant role as it represents the message of thenarrative in question. The name came from Suyuan Woo, who happens tobe the mother of the protagonist of the story, Jing-Mei Woo. Suyuanonce told her daughter that there are two kinds of girls, theobedient and the peer driven (Tan 228). She, however, went furtherand told her daughter that she would not tolerate a peer-driven childin her house.
Suyuan is a woman who believes that hard work and determination canshape the future of any American child. Back in China, she lost twobabies and her husband (Tan 228) and for this reason, Suyuan decidedto cling onto her American dream. She has a stubborn faith thatanyone in America has the potential to succeed in life. On thecontrary, her daughter does not believe in dream accomplishment (Tan228).
Suyuan guides her daughter into peculiar hustles in the bid to helpher reveal any ‘hidden’ talent. She holds incoherent notions onher young daughter and ignores where her talents lie. Moreover, sheclings onto the belief that by being born in America, her child isforeordained for greatness (Tan 223). However, the young childbegrudges her mother’s efforts of pushing her into the many hustlesespecially the piano. Since Suyuan had previously led her into thecareer of an actress as well as putting her through knowledge testswith no success (Tan 223), Jing-Mei believed that she made the pianodecision without justification and judgment call.
According to the story, many parents of this era are hard-nosed anduse informal methods of unleashing their children`s hidden talents asseen with Suyuan. Nevertheless, Jing-Mei has the feeling that she isdisappointing her mother with her progress in the piano lessons andfor this reason she intentionally tries to undermine her proficiencywith the piano. Our central character does not like her mommy’scomparison of her with other ‘talented’ children. Supernumerary,parents such as Waverly are boastful in nature as she parades herdaughter’s chess trophies amongst her friends an act that makesSuyuan pressure her daughter on discovering her talent too (Tan 227).
The author further connects the incidences that gave birth totensions in the peer groups and broadens the topic of American Dream.Jong is comfortable with her mommy showing off her trophies whereasJing feels that her mother is pushing her beyond her capacity andwishes. From this, we can conclude that her mother is obsessed withcompeting with Waverly.
Being a Chinese native, her mother greatly values the obedience ofchildren to their parents. Therefore, when her daughter refuses toplay the piano, she was quick to inform her of two kinds of children,the governable and those who follow their minds (Tan 228). FromJing-Mei’s perception, her mother’s greatest fear is the failureof her daughter to pay homage to her wishes by giving her best shotand the attempt to better her performance. She also believed that themother did not have a problem with her lacking a musical talent (Tan224).
Besides, the theme of conflict comes in where Jing-Mei decides to putthe dispute to an end by refusing to play the piano (Tan 225). Shefurther wished that she was not Suyuan’s daughter and that shecould have died like her siblings who passed during her mother’sprevious marriage way back in China. This statement is painful to themommy, and the piano remains untouched for many years(Tan 228).However, one day, Suyuan hands the piano to her daughter in a calmgesture and Jin is quick to observe that she had all the peace andthat the piano was a symbol their relationship.
Jing-Mei understands her predecessor’s real motives and perceptiontwenty years down the line after she was put to rest (Tan 229). Atone particular time, the contours of the piano Suyuan had bought forher caught her attention. This character further finds two songs withthe titles ‘pleading child’ and ‘perfectly contented’inscribed on the different sides of a page. After a closeexamination, she concluded that the two titles are halves of the samesong (Tan 229).
The song matches with the themes of generational conflicts betweenmommies and their daughters. Obstacles such as aspirations,upbringing and age cannot come between the two. Moreover, the‘pleading child’ will never be ‘perfectly contented’ withouthaving overcome the tussles with her mother. At an early stage, thegirl rebelled against her mother as she tried to ask herselfquestions about her nationality and ethnic heritage. Therefore, wecan conclude that Tan was successful in expressing the tussles andthe confusion of family connections in the United States of America.
"Critical Analysis of Two Kinds by Amy Tan | Jotted Lines".Jottedlines.com. N.p., 2013. Web. 10 July 2016.
Tan, Amy. "Two kinds." Thejoy luck club (1989): 222-229.