Setting -Two Kinds

328 Words2 Pages
In “Two Kinds,” Amy Tan uses dialect and setting to provide parallelism and contrast to the story’s action. The physical setting creates physiological that illuminates the conflict. The manner in which the two major characters speak is representative of their respective attitudes. Tan subtly manipulates the literary elements of setting and dialect to provide a deeper understanding of this short story’s theme. “Two Kinds” is set in America, a symbol of opportunity. However, the location of America, Chinatown, contrasts with America; Chinatown is reminiscent of China and of the squalor and pain Jing-mei’s mother escaped. The conflict lies between the old and new life—Jing-mei lacks her mother’s perspective and does not appreciate the opportunities of America. The setting in “Two Kinds” provides insight to the conflict at every level. The setting of the piano recital at the “Joy Luck Club” is heavily ironic. Jing-mei’s performance is certainly not lucky, nor joyous. The events at the club result in a loss of hope and joy, especially for Jing-mei’s mother. Also, the climax occurs in the family’s apartment. As all children are expected to be obedient in their home, the rebellion of Jing-mei in her home shows her strong feelings against being lived through vicariously. Instead of a stable environment, the home becomes a battlefield where Jing-mei’s mother is traumatized, “as if she were blowing away like a small brown leaf.” The conflict between Jing-mei and her mother develops from their separate dialects. Because she grew up in America, Jing-mei has flawless English. In contrast, Jing-mei’s mother talks in imperfect English, with tense and verb errors. During the climax of the story, Jing-mei’s mother reverts to her native Chinese as she shouts at her daughter. The difference in dialects is ironic when compared to the characters attitudes; each character wants to
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