In her story "Two Kinds," Amy Tan shows that the journey from childhood to adulthood moves from compliance to passive-aggressive defiance to rebellion to confident independence. When Jing-mei is young and her mother decides to make her into a prodigy, Jing-mei at first buys into the effort. She herself dreams of becoming "a dainty ballerina girl" or a Cinderella, believing she will "soon become perfect."
However, as she continually fails to measure up to her mother's expectations, she has a moment where she cries and scratches at her reflection in the mirror, and something in her dies. She digs in her heels, mentally, and determines she won't let her mother change her into something she is not. After that, she "performed listlessly" when her mother drilled her. In her piano lessons with her hearing-impaired instructor, she fakes her way along until her defiance is revealed at the recital.
After that, Jing-mei becomes openly rebellious. She refuses to obey a direct command from her mother to practice the piano, which results in her mother getting physical with her. Jing-mei lashes out at her mother verbally, saying she wishes she were dead like her mother's "babies she had lost in China."
The open rebellion and hurtful words silence her mother, but they move Jing-mei toward a new phase of maturity. Now she no longer looks for her mother's approval as a way of measuring her worth. She comes to the realization that "I could only be me," and she is content with that. At the end of the story, Jing-mei, now an adult, turns back to play the piano--after her mother's death. She realizes that the song "Pleading Child" that she had botched at the recital is paired with a piece called "Perfectly Contented," suggesting that she has moved in her life from that state of childhood defiance and rebellion to a confident contentment with who she is--the independence of adulthood.