What Does The Title "two Kinds" Mean? What Are There Two Kinds Of? What Do Those Two Kinds Have To Do With The Piano Pieces "pleading Child" And "perfectly Contented"?

How do “Pleading Child”and “Perfectly Contented” have a double meaning in the story? What does the last sentence of the story mean?

Expert Answers
kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Two Kinds," "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" have a double meaning in the story because they represent the changing feelings of Jing-Mei towards her mother. When she is a young child, for example, Jing-Mei can be characterized as a "Pleading Child" because she fights against her mother's plans to turn her into a child prodigy. She does not want to sing or play the piano; she just wants her mother to accept her as she is.

As Jing-Mei gets older, however, she becomes "Perfectly Contented" because she realizes that her mother never intended to upset her or make her feel inadequate. All she truly wanted was for Jing-Mei to be successful. As an adult, she realizes this when she looks at her piano and feels "proud," as though it were a trophy that she had "won back." In other words, she has finally come to understand her mother's motivation.

Through the last sentence of the story, the author demonstrates the appropriateness of the title, "Two Kinds." As an adult, she realizes and accepts that this conflict between herself and her mother is a normal and natural part of the mother/daughter relationship. As such, "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" represent the two sides of this often rocky relationship.

That the author had to play them both a "few times" is also significant because it shows that it takes age and experience to really understand that these early conflicts between herself and her mother were just a normal part of growing up.

teacherscribe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jing-Mei realizes, years later, that "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" are two halves of the same song.  As an impetuous and head-strong child, the narrator doesn't appreciate all that her mother does for her.  As an adult she realizes all that her mother tried to do for her - buying her a piano, arranging lessons, pushing and motivating her.  She just wanted Jing-Mei to have a better life than she did.   Because she was so young and stubborn, she never was able to value all that her mother sacrificed for her.  However, after her mother's death, she examines the song book and realizes that "Pleading Child," is only half of the song.  The other half is "Perfectly Contented."  This symbolically stands for our narrator.  She used to be a pleading child, who never appreciated what her mother was trying to do for her.  But now as an adult, she is - maybe not perfectly contented - but she is much more content than she was as a child.  Jing-Mei has developed her own talents and abilities, which was really what her mother wanted her to do all along.

charlie101 | Student

pleding child is a that pleases her mother even if he/she dont like it to obtain her mother's love. Perfectly contented is the one who follows her own mind and rebels. Remenber that jing mei's mother was chinesse there was a clash of cultures because jing mei was american

 

Read the study guide:
Two Kinds

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question