Discuss how the dialogue in Amy Tan's "Two Kinds" reflects the conflict between the mother and the daughter.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Examining the dialogue between the mother and Jing-Mei reveals that it is one of the primary vehicles that is used, especially by Jing-Mei, to escalate the conflict and wound her mother. It is worth while tracing the conflict and seeing how it develops, where it climaxes, and finally is resolved through the dialogue throughout the novel. Key points are as follows:

After seeing the girl playing the piano, Jing-Mei expresses her resentment at her mother's plans for her:

"Why don't you like me the way I am? I'm not a genius! I can't play the piano..."

It is these words that causes her mother to slap Jing-Mei, saying:

"Who ask you be genius?" she shouted. "Only ask you be your best..."

The climax of their conflict comes when Jing-Mei reminds her mother of her dead brothers and sisters in China:

"Then I wish I'd never been born!" I shouted. "I wish I were dead! Like them."

The response she achieves is exactly what she wants: "her face went blank, her mouth closed, her arms went slack and she backed out of the room..."

One point you will also want to consider is the use of broken English by Jing-Mei's mother and Jing-Mei's fluent and perfect English. Being an immigrant to the States Jing-Mei's mother's English will never be perfect, whereas for Jing-Mei, having been born and grown up in the States, can speak fluently. This is an aspect that differentiates them and further escalates the conflict.

ahmadstiller's profile pic

ahmadstiller | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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First, there is a language barrier and the moms accustomed to her ways from her country on raising her daughter that way. After seeing the girl playing the piano, the daughter expresses her resentment at her mother's plans for her. The daughter is baffled, because she assumes the mother doesn’t like the way she is. But the mother just wants her to try her best. The climax of this conflict reminds the mom about her dead brothers and sisters in China. Then the duaghter reacts in an unruly way she then says that she wish she was never born and she wishes that she was dead. Then the mother quietly leaves the room after hearing thoses dreadful comments that her daughter has just stated. Overall this dialogue reflects the negative conflicts bewteen the mother and daughter.

 

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