Parents and their children fight about so many things. Mothers and daughters often fight about everything. One says black, the other says white. One says up and the other down. Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” brings forth this epic battle between a mother who wants perfection for her daughter and the coming of age daughter who is struggling to find herself. This is a story that is shared by many mothers and daughters as the daughter struggles to find herself amongst the pressures of conformity pressed upon her by the mother who only wants the best for her and the society who tells her that she needs to make her own choices. In this story, however, there is an extra factor that plays a part in Tan’s story. This factor takes the normal mother daughter struggle and makes it a little unique. The difference is a cultural divide between a mother born and raised in China and her American born daughter.
Ni Kan’s mother wants her to be a prodigy in something, and she is not particular about what it is. She believes that you can control your destiny and become whatever you set your mind too. Believing this and wanting only the best for her daughter, Ni Kan’s mother pushes her to try everything from acting to playing the piano. She pressures her daughter to “try” it even though her daughter pushes away from it.
Many parents have done the same over the years by enrolling their children in various sports, pageants, classes and camps hoping that one day they will find the one thing that their child is better in than anyone else’s. Often, but not always, this is done at the expense of the fun that these things are supposed to hold.
A common example is the mothers who enter their daughters into beauty pageants and placing so much pressure on performance and winning that the children have meltdowns of epic proportions. You hear the children say, “I don’t want to do this anymore!!” Yet, the mothers continue to pin them down or bribe them to apply makeup, style hair or...