Two Kinds: True Identity

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Dylan LeVine Professor Amber Day LCS 121A February 9, 2012 Yin and Yang Identity is an aspect of one’s life that must be formed on one’s own and not solely on the words or actions of others. The people around us can help build our identity, but is us who have to truly find ourselves. Two Kinds is narrated by Jing Mei Woo, a young girl whose mother pushes her to become a “prodigy child”. At first she liked the idea because she would be able to make her mother happy, but later gets locked in a struggle over her identity. People rely heavily on the way others perceive them; however your true identity is formed primarily on how you perceive yourself. As a child Jing Mei was pushed by her mother to become a prodigy child.…show more content…
The pressure to succeed as a pianist outraged Jing-Mei and brought her to her breaking point and led her to shout at her mother, “Why don't you like me the way I am? I'm not a genius! I can't play the piano. And even if I could, I wouldn't go on TV if you paid me a million dollars!"” (Tan 518). She wanted her mother to love her for who she was and not the person she was expected to be. In spite of her mother’s high expectations, Jing-Mei did everything to thwart her mother’s ambitions. Jing-Mei was determined not to become the prodigy child her mother expected her to be. Jing-Mei had not yet discovered that her own identity was split between what her mother believed her to be and what she thought she was…show more content…
In the years that followed, I failed her so many times, each time asserting my own will, my right to fall short of expectations. I didn't get straight A’s. I didn't become class president. I didn't get into Stanford. I dropped out of college. For unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me (Tan 522). In Jing-Mei’s mothers effort to make her a prodigy, she actually taught her one of the most important life lessons, that is that you can not live out to the expectations of other people, that you must establish your own identity, own expectation for yourself and find happiness in being the best that you can be. When Jing-Mei’s mother passes, for the first time in quite a while Jing-Mei sat at the piano in her mother’s apartment, the same one she practiced at when she was attempting to become a prodigy child and played “Pleading Child” (Tan 523) the same piece she played at the recital. She is surprised at how easily she plays it. Upon completing it she looked on the opposite side of the music sheet “and for the first time, or so it seemed” (Tan 523) she notices a piece titled “Perfectly Contented” (Tan 523). She played this with ease also and after playing each several times she realizes “they were two halves of the same song” (Tan 523). Not too unlike her own identity which was split between what her mother wanted for her and what she thought she wanted

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