In the story "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan, what is the conflict between Jing-mei and her mother?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The conflict between Jing-mei and her mother is over Jing-mei’s piano lessons.  Jing-mei does not want to play anymore, but her mother wants her to become a prodigy.

When Jing-mei’s mother decides she should be a prodigy, Jing-mei is on board at first.

"Of course, you can be a prodigy, too," my mother told me when I was nine. "You can be best anything…”

Jing-mei is interested in being a prodigy.  She plays along for a while, trying to become some kind of prodigy.  It doesn’t take, and Jing-mei gets frustrated.  When her mother tries to get her to take piano lessons, she is not excited.

"Why don't you like me the way I am?" I cried. "I'm not a genius! I can't play the piano. And even if I could, I wouldn't go on TV if you paid me a million dollars!"

But Jing-mei’s mother insists, and she starts the lessons with the elderly—and deaf—Mr. Chong.  Unfortunately, she figures out that she does not really have to learn anything pretty quickly.  As a result, her first concert is an embarrassment for Jing-mei and her mother.

Jing-mei and her mother have a big argument when her mother tries to get her to continue playing the piano after the disastrous conflict.  Her mother drags her to the piano bench to practice, and Jing-mei tells her she wishes she was dead like her twin babies in China.  Her mother is so saddened that she drops the issue.


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