Two Kinds Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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Describe the relationship between Jing-mei and her mother in "Two Kinds." Why does Jing mei resist her mother's efforts to develop her talent?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The relationship between Jing-mei and her mother, Suyuan, becomes largely antagonistic as Suyuan continues to push Jing-mei to be a prodigy at something, anything. Feeling as though her mother does not accept her the way that she is, that her mother doesn't love her for herself, Jing-mei begins to think, "I won't let her change me, I promised myself. I won't be what I'm not." She begins to see her mother as an adversary rather than an ally. Jing-mei seems to know that her mother will reproach her for not trying her hardest almost as soon as Jing-mei credits another little girl on television for trying hard, despite not being the best piano player. Suyuan says, "Just like you [...]. Not the best. Because you not trying." After this, Jing-mei determines that she will not try at all. The more her mother seems to push, the more Jing-mei does nothing, as if to prove a point. She shouts 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!" At this point, it has become a battle of wills for Jing-mei. She doesn't want to gratify what she sees as her mother's desire to show her off or brag to others about her ability.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Jing mei and her mother are representative of many first and second generation immigrant families. Jimg mei is growing up in the United States where the ideas of self-determination and freedom are taught even to children. Her mother comes from a different country where children do not have such free will and are supposed to serve their families. When Jing mei's mother sees the young Asian girl on television, she sees an opportunity to advance the familiy's fortune and status. All Jing mei sees is someone who is forcing her to do something she hates. So she resists her mother's effort to develop her talents because she wants to be able to determine her future herself. Although she may not even recognize it at such a young age, she is fighting for self-determination, something Americans fully understand, but to Jing mei's mother it is willfulness and disobedience.

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