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Please describe Jing Mei's mother's character in "Two Kinds".

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finnd39 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:16 PM via web

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Please describe Jing Mei's mother's character in "Two Kinds".

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:17 PM (Answer #1)

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Jing-Mei’s mother has had an immensely difficult life, having been dispossessed not only of her native country but also of her two earlier babies. In this respect she is worthy of sympathy. It is natural that she would want to make up her losses through Jing-Mei. We are given only an objective view of the mother, however, even in paragraph 78, where her deepest feelings are described. Much is to be inferred from this paragraph. Although Jing Mei does not express regret about the violence of her childhood feelings, her memories indicate that at the story’s end she has been emotionally reconciled with her mother.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:34 PM (Answer #2)

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The mother in Amy Tan's, "Two Kinds," is an immigrant who wholeheartedly embraces the American Dream.  She can't live it herself, so she tries to force her daughter to live it for her.

She tries to coerce her daughter into becoming a child prodigy:  she wants a superstar for a daughter.  She doesn't care what her daughter becomes famous for, she just wants her to become famous.  She sets impossible goals for her daughter based on American TV.

Her abrasive methods backfire, of course, and Jing-Mei rebels.

Perhaps most telling, the mother sees the world in a simplistic manner, telling her daughter that there are only two kinds of daughters, ones who obey absolutely everything a parent says, and ones who don't.  This is simplistic, as well as sexist, of course.  The world is not that simple, and can't be divided into two clear, black and white, dichotomies, or parts.  The mother wants Jing-Mei to know her place, a woman's place, like she, herself, apparently does.  

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