In the short story "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan, explain the meaning of the last paragraph.

1 Answer | Add Yours

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In the last paragraph, Jing Mei talks about the two songs she is trying to play.

And for the first time, or so it seemed, I noticed the piece on the right hand side. It was called "Perfectly Contented." I tried to play this one as well. It had a lighter melody but the same flowing rhythm and turned out to be quite easy. "Pleading Child" was shorter but slower; "Perfectly Contented" was longer but faster. And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song.
 songs represent the two Jing Mei's in the story. When the narrator is a young girl in conflict with her domineering mother, she is the pleading child. She wants to be loved for who she is, not turned into someone her mother thinks she should be.  The rhythm of the piece demonstrates that childhood lasts for but a moment but for the child it seems to drag, especially when one is trying to avoid a negative situation.

The piece that Jing Mei finds later--"Perfectly Contented" symbolizes the narrator as an adult.  The lighthearted tone of the piece shows that Jing Mei has learned to laugh at herself and her past, and the longer length of the piece demonstrates that much time passes before one can become "perfectly contented." The speed of the music contrasts with "Pleading Child," because as Jing Mei has matured, she realizes that time passes too quickly, especially when one has found contentment in life.

We’ve answered 317,416 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question