Two Kinds Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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What Is The Central Conflict In The Story "two Kinds" By Amy Tan?

In the story "Two Kinds," what does the main character desire, and what blocks her from achieving it?

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The main character, Jing-mei, desires to please her parents and make them proud. However, the only hindrance is that whereas she wants her mother to accept her as she is, an average child without exceptional talents, her mother will only be happy if she becomes outstanding at something. Therefore, the mother goes to a great extent to mold Jing-mei into a child prodigy by engaging her in an endless search for talent including a stint at being a Chinese Shirley Temple, balancing on her head without support and playing the piano. But as each attempt yielded dismal results and disappointment, so did Jing-mei become resentful of her mother’s efforts at turning her into someone she was not. She simply wanted to be accepted for who she was. Her resentment pushed her to sabotage her piano career debut and embarrass her parents in front of their friends. In the years that followed before the death of her mother, Jing-mei continued to disappoint her mother by pursuing her own ends and being herself. Even though Jing-mei desired to please her mother, her lack of ambition for exceptionality and resignation to an ordinary life stood in the way.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The main conflict in “Two Kinds” is between mother and daughter (character vs. character).  Jing-mei is not a child prodigy, and her mother wants her to be.  Jing-mei, the main character, wants to please her mother but she wants to be herself too.

Jing-mei’s mother wants more than anything to be able to praise her daughter to her friends.  She wants Jing-mei to be some kind of prodigy, just as Waverly is a chess champion.

Unfortunately, Jing-mei does not have the talent or dedication to become a prodigy.  The dream is not really Jing-mei’s.  She wants to make her mother happy, but she also wants to be herself.  She wants her mother to appreciate and love her for who she is.  Ultimately, her lack of distinct accomplishment helps maintain the rift between mother and daughter.

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