How does the daughter change over the course of the story?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan Jing-Mei grows from an obedient child into an independent young woman.

As a young girl she shares her mother’s enthusiasm for the American dream. When her mother explains the opportunities in America and how June could be a prodigy, the little girl willingly participated in her mother’s plans. Together they watch shows, and read magazines about child prodigies.

In fact, in the beginning I was just as excited as my mother, maybe even more so. I pictured this prodigy part of me as many different images, and I tried each one on for size.

June based her self-worth on pleasing her mother and becoming the perfect child.

In all of my imaginings I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect.

Suyuan choose the piano as June’s talent. When June realizes the amount of practice needed to become a talented pianist she begins to question her mother’s motives. June is aware she does not have the innate talent of a prodigy. She fails during her piano recital and her internal conflict comes to light. The internal conflict soon surfaces during an argument with her mother, and creates a wedge between the pair. As June advances through school, she is determined to be perfectly average. Her grades are mediocre, and she flounders in college.

It was not the only disappointment my mother felt in me. In the years that followed, I failed her many times, each time asserting my will, my right to fall short of expectations. I didn't get straight As. I didn't become class president. I didn't get into Stanford. I dropped out of college.

At the beginning of the story, June is a little girl who sees life through her mother’s eyes but soon decides to assert her individualism in spite of her mother’s feelings. At the end of the story, June plays two musical pieces on the piano. The compositions entitled “Perfectly Contented” and “Pleading Child” are symbolic of her life.