Discuss the idea developed by the text creator about how significant experiences can affect our lives.

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Two Kinds," both the daughter, Jing-mei, and her mother have significant experiences that impact their lives. The mother's backstory reveals a significant event in her past that would shape the way she tried to raise her daughter. Jing-mei's mother left China in 1949 when the Communist Revolution occurred. In that event, she lost her parents, her husband, and "twin baby girls." But she didn't let those losses bring her to despair; instead she used that tragedy to spur her on to a new life, and she grabbed hold of America as the vehicle of all her hopes and aspirations for a better life. These dreams she forced on Jing-mei. She tried to create Jing-mei as a child prodigy; she wanted her to be famous and to capitalize on the new land of opportunity she had come to embrace as her country. However, when Jing-mei defied her, and especially when she shouted the hurtful words, "I wish I'd never been born! ... I wish I were dead! Like them!"--then Jing-mei's mother stopped pushing her to achieve. She gave up her hopes for Jing-mei, and "the lid to the piano was closed." 

That same incident changed Jing-mei as well. Just before that outburst, Jing-mei defied her mother's command to practice the piano. As she did so, she felt "as if my true self had finally emerged." This was the experience that solidified in the girl's mind that she would not tailor her life to please her mother, but that she would be herself. She would not live her life to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of her mother, to make up for what her mother had lost in China. Thus she disappointed her mother many times over the years, but Jing-mei did not seem to regret her decision. She was content to "only be me." Her experience of being the "Pleading Child" with her mother resulted in her coming to terms with who she really was, apart from her mother, a state which caused her to be, in the end, "Perfectly Contented." 

 

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Two Kinds

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