I'm not sure what my professor is asking us to compare and contrast. Her indications are: Compare and contrast the two different texts ("Two Kinds" by Amy Tan and "Thank You, Ma’am" by Langton Hughes), the authors, and how they address lessons learned and the perspective both old age and youth can have on the characters. Compare and contrast not only the characters but how they reach their end conclusions.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Amy Tan's "Two Kinds," the narrator reflects on her childhood relationship with her mother and their battle over what each wanted for her future. Being a child prodigy was not what Jing-mei wanted for herself, and she subverted all of her mother's attempts to push her to greatness. It damaged their relationship, but she accepts her mother's gift of the piano that caused so much drama in their lives. After her mother's death, she is philosophical about their difficulties; she recognizes that there was love between them and that she had learned a great deal about herself through their tribulations.

In "Thank You, Ma'am," readers only know that Roger wanted to say more than "thank you" to Mrs. Jones. He did not have the words, but Hughes leaves readers with the impression that he had learned from her that a life of crime would not be his direction in life. Mrs. Jones recognized that Roger was neglected but not yet too far into delinquency that he couldn't be saved.

It is not known, since readers do not follow Roger into adulthood, what kind of man he became. Jing-mei becomes a success, but not perhaps in the way her mother desired. The stories are similar in that they suggest that adult influence in a young person's life is unpredictable. The stories are different in that readers only know that an adult Jing-mei achieves the success she wants for herself on her own terms, despite her mother's efforts to shape her, whereas Roger's future remains unknown, leaving readers to reach their own conclusions about how life turned out for him.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial