Living Through Your Child in Two Kinds

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Living Through Your Child in “Two Kinds” The 20th Century short story “Two Kinds” by author Amy Tan tells about the life of a young Chinese girl and her family who immigrated to The Unites States. The young girl’s name is Jing Mei. Jing Mei’s mother always wanted the best for her. She wanted her daughter to become a prodigy at the age of nine. Jing Mei’s mother forces her to try different things that the mother wants her to do to become a prodigy. Tan uses the elements of, character and plot to reinforce the theme of living through your child. Jing Mei wanted to be herself and her mother, who thinks differently, demanded her to become a prodigy. There were many reasons why Jing Mei’s mother wanted so much from her. She had worked really hard and taken lots of time trying to make Jing Mei a prodigy because Jing Mei was her last hope of becoming a “somebody” or famous. Jing Mei’s mother also expected her to be a prodigy because she emigrated from China; she thought America was the land of opportunity and “you could be anything you wanted to be in America [and] you could become instantly famous.”(199) Jing Mei’s mother didn’t know what she wanted her to do, so she experimented. This is the Inciting Force. It is the first sign of conflict. First she tried dancing and singing, “At first my mother thought I could become a Chinese Shirley Temple” (200). Because Jing Mei is a first generation Chinese American she has the same physical qualities as a young Chinese girl. There was no way she could look like Shirley Temple. Jing Mei has straight black hair and after a bad trip to the hair dresser her hair is in the style of Peter Pan. Jing Mei never wanted to do the things her mother wanted her to do. Jing Mei never became a “Chinese Shirley Temple.”

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