Two Kinds Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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Describe the relationship between Jing-Mei and her mother in "Two Kinds."

The relationship between Jing-Mei and her mother in "Two Kinds" could be described as fraught. Suyuan wants her daughter to be a child prodigy, but Jing-Mei's not so enthusiastic. Though she goes along with her mother's plan, it soon becomes clear that she isn't cut out to be a pianist. This generates tension between mother and daughter which eventually leads to Jing-Mei telling Suyuan that she wishes she were dead like the twin daughters Suyuan left behind in China.

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To a large extent, the relationship between Jing-Mei and her mother Suyuan is determined by what happened back in China in 1949. There, Suyuan was forced to leave behind her twin daughters, and this has caused her considerable regret and sadness ever since. It has also led to her wanting her remaining daughter to avail herself of all the opportunities that American life has to offer.

This means that Suyuan wants Jing-Mei to become a child prodigy, just like the highly talented children she sees on television. The problem is that Jing-Mei's not quite so enthusiastic. Thoroughly Americanized, she doesn't share the values of her tiger mother, whose mentality is more traditionally Chinese than American. This clash of cultures persists throughout Jing-Mei's painful and ultimately fruitless efforts to become what her mother wants her to be.

Before long, the relationship between mother and daughter has become not just a culture clash but also a power play. Once Jing-Mei realizes that she will...

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