If the story "Two Kinds" had been told through Suyuan's point of view, what type of narration would be appropriate?

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If Jing-mei's mother were narrating the story instead of Jing-mei herself, we would likely be inclined to sympathize more with Suyuan than we do now. As it is, from Jing-mei's perspective, we can see how much pressure she feels to be a genius, to be perfect, how horrible it is to feel as though she is never going to be good enough for her mother. From Suyuan's perspective, I think we would see a kind of loving frustration and pain. To have Jing-mei tell her that she wishes she had died like Suyuan's other twin daughters in China would be so painful, on many levels. First, there's the reminder of her two dead children, children she could not save and who she assumes died all alone. Second, there's the daughter in whom she now places all her hopes—because the others are lost to her—who now wishes that she had died too. The pain must be unspeakable, but Jing-mei seems to interpret it as anger and disappointment. If Suyuan were telling the story, I think this moment would be described quite differently.

Many years after Jing-mei's failed talent show performance and angry outburst, her mother offers her the piano. Suyuan tells her that she'll pick it up quickly again, "as if she knew this was certain." Then she says, "'You have natural talent. You could be a genius if you want to . . . You just not trying' . . . And she was neither angry nor sad. She said it as if announcing a fact that could never be disproved." Suyuan, like most mothers, believes that her daughter is wonderful and beautiful and special, even if her daughter doesn't believe this. Were she narrating, the mood of the text would likely capture this disappointment: not disappointment that her daughter isn't a genius but, rather, disappointment that her daughter cannot see her own wonder and beauty and everything that makes her special. In Suyuan's eyes, it seems, Jing-mei's "genius" is never in question; it is her daughter's inability to recognize her genius that causes her mother such pain.

In other words, then, the type of narration would not change. It would remain a first person narration, likely told looking back on the past, as Jing-mei does. However, the mood would be quite different, and we would likely come to sympathize a great deal more with Suyuan than we currently do.

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If the story was told through the mom's point of view, then the narration would still be in first person.  The difference is that Suyuan is telling the story. The type of narration wouldn't change.  What would change is the tone of the story.  "Two Kinds" is normally told from Jing-Mei's perspective.  She's a stubborn, slightly rebellious young girl, so along with that comes her attitude that what her mother is making her do is "the worst thing ever."  I hear it all of the time from my junior high students when they talk about their own parents.  

If the story were told from Suyuan's perspective, the narration's tone would move from hopeful and reasoning to angry and exasperated.  In Suyuan's mind it would make perfect sense that her daughter could be the next Shirley Temple with enough hard work.  At first, the narration would continue in the hopeful thread as Jing-Mei goes along with the plans at first.  But as Jing-Mei becomes more obstinate, the narration's tone would shift to the frustrated tone that I hear from a lot of parents at parent teacher conferences.  Suyuan would express the feelings of "why can't you just do what I say" to Jing-Mei.  As a parent of three, I would actually very much like to read the story of "Two Kinds" from Suyuan's perspective, because I think I could related quite well to her tone and interpretation of events.  

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