We have a tendency to expect the most out of those whom we love the most, and we can be much harder on our loved ones than we are on the general population. That is part of what the Jing-mei realizes in her more mature adulthood as she reflects back...
We have a tendency to expect the most out of those whom we love the most, and we can be much harder on our loved ones than we are on the general population. That is part of what the Jing-mei realizes in her more mature adulthood as she reflects back on the experience of the piano with her mother.
Jing-mei's mother believes that her daughter is capable of greatness—as much as the other talented children she reads about in Reader's Digest or watches on the Ed Sullivan Show. Finally, she decides to focus her efforts on developing her daughter's piano talents.
Jing-mei is not a willing participant; she is determined not to let her mother "change" her. So she halfheartedly attends lessons, taking advantage of the fact that her piano teacher had neither great hearing nor good sight. It almost becomes a game to her to see how much she can get away with.
Her mother—and the entire audience—realizes the truth at her recital, and afterward when her mother tries to send her back to piano lessons, their conflict comes to a climax when Jing-mei tells her that she wishes she were dead like her mother's other children.
When Jing-mei looks at the two songs in her music books, she sees the "two kinds" of a child that her mother saw in her. On one hand, she was the "pleading child"—a moody song with a relatively short duration. At the same time, her mother was "perfectly contented" in her daughter, especially in the woman she grew to be. This phase of life was longer but had a quicker beat. Jing-mei has served "two kinds" of roles in her mother's life, "play[ing] them both a few times," but these pieces have always part of the same song—her mother's daughter.