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Two Kinds by Amy Tam

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'Two Kinds' - Amy Tan

Summary of 'Two Kinds'

Jing-mei's mother moved to San Francisco in 1949 after losing everything back home; her parents, her home, her first husband, and her twin-daughters. Jing-mei was born a few years later and she was raised in traditional Chinese culture--if you work hard you will achieve.

Jing-mei's mother wanted her dauther to achieve success as America was the place to make it big. Jing-mei would watch Shirley Temple on television with her mother, and her mother would tell her how she could be the Chinese Shirley Temple. She would make her look closely at every detail of Shirley's singing and acting with hopes of her daughter reaching the same talent. All through her childhood, Jing-mei would listen to her mom's expectations of her becoming the best. At first, the thought of fame and being on the Ed Sullivan show was highly appealing to Jing-mei, but it did not last long before the pressure and training coming from her mother reached a level that was too intense for Jing-mei. Every night after dinner, her mom would present new tests to her about mathematics, geography, etc. to train her to be the best.

As the pressure and training from Jing-mei's mother became too overwhelming, Jing-mei did not desire fame anymore. She was done with not living up to her mother's expectations and having to deal with her disappointment. Therefore she emerged into a rebellious child living mainly in American culture versus Chinese culture. She made a promise to herself not to be who she was not.

After numerous tries to show her mother that she could not be more than what she was, Jing-mei would now only pretend to have practiced her piano when taking piano lessons with her deaf piano teacher, Mr. Chong. At her debut, playing in front of an audience, Jing-mei blew it. She hoped that this would put an end to her mother's expectations of her, but only a few days after the big disappointment, Jing-mei's mother brought up the piano lessons once again.

Later on in life, Jing-mei disappointed her mother many times, but at Jing-mei's thirtieth birthday, her mother offered her the piano that reminded her of the misery of her childhood. Jing-mei took this offer as a sign of forgiveness, and the enormous burden of her mother's expectations was removed. Her rebelling had finally succeeded.

It was not until the death of her mother that Jing-mei would have the piano tuned and started to play it again. For the first time, she was motivated to play and realized that the pieces she rehearsed as a child were not that hard at all.

The main theme in 'Two Kinds'

'Two Kinds' covers themes such as 'mother-daughter relationships', 'immigration', 'culture', 'America',



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