In "Two Kinds", how does the narrator respect her Mother?

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kimfuji eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of the story you can see the author soften toward her mother, perhaps it is because her mother is dead; and she is going through her old school things.She looks at old music she played as a child.

And for the first time, or so it seemed, I noticed the piece on the right-hand side, It was called "Perfectly Contented." I tried to play this one as well. It had a lighter melody but with the same flowing rhythm and turned out to be quite easy. "Pleading Child" was shorter but slower; "Perfectly Contented" was longer but faster. And after I had played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song.

It is here that she realises her interpretation of her mother had been from a child's point of view, as a pleading child. However, now she is an adult and she accepts herself  and doesn't try to gain her mother's approval. She realizes that she and her mother are two sides of the same coin, similar to what she says about the two songs, "two halves of the same song". What that means is: her mother believed she could be anything; and she hated her mother for pushing her to be better. But the reason it bothered her so much was because she also believed the same things as her mother. She respects her mother for this, pushing her and believing in her.

It took a lifetime for her to understand this, but isn't that true of real life ? By the time we figure it all out--the old childhood pains and losses and loves--life is almost over.