How does Jing-Mei react at first to her mother's plan of making her a prodigy in "Two Kinds"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. ("Two Kinds")

Amy Tan, writing as Jing-Mei, clearly expresses how Jing-Mei reacted at first to her mother's plan of making her a prodigy: she was "just as excited as" her mother. As illustration of her excited feelings, when she was taken to get a Shirley Temple haircut, to become a Shirley Temple prodigy, she came out from under the scissors of a beauty school trainee with uneven "crinkly black fuzz" that her mother and the beauty school instructor attacked and "lopped off." Undaunted, Jing-Mei "liked the haircut" and found it a catalyst to looking forward to her "future fame" as a prodigy.

Jing-Mei was just as excited as her mother--"maybe even more so"--about the prospect of becoming a famous American prodigy like the ones in the magazines gotten from houses her mother cleaned. She could picture herself as any one of a number of child-sized achievers, from ballerinas to Cinderellas. Her excitement led her to believe she would, as a prodigy, be "perfect," finally fulfilling all her parents' expectations and becoming the one they would "adore."   

In all of my imaginings I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect: My mother and father would adore me. I would be beyond reproach. I would never feel the need to sulk, or to clamor for anything.

Her excitement crashes brutally only after failing night after to answer her mother's prodigy quizzes--"What's the capital of Finland?" "Nairobi!"-and seeing the looks of disappointment on her mother's face. But before that, Jing-Mei was excited about the prodigy project right along with her mother.

And after seeing, once again, my mother's disappointed face, something inside me began to die. I hated ... the raised hopes and failed expectations.

meowmix eNotes educator| Certified Educator

She thinks she can do it but after trying Jing Mei realizes that the expectations are too high and she stops trying.  Unfortunately for her, her mother does not see the same way  and pressures Jing Mei to continue on.

jonny3 | Student

what happens when jing-mei plays the piano in front of an audience?