In "Two Kinds," can we compare the mother-daughter relationship with Chinese-American attitudes and culture?

Asked on by npomales1

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

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I think there is a definite sense in which we can compare the mother with traditional Chinese values and the daughter, Jing-Mei, with American values and culture. Let us remember that the mother emmigrated from China and went to America, whereas Jing-Mei was born in America and thus finds so many aspects of her mother's culture foreign and strange. In the clash that we see between the mother and Jing-Mei, we see mirrored the clash of these two very different cultures. We can see this most clearly in the way that the mother places so much pressure on Jing-Mei to do well and to succeed, whereas Jing-Mei wants to live her own life. Note how Jing-Mei herself expresses her determination to live her life her way:

It was not the only disappointment my mother felt in me. In the years that followed, I failed her so many times, each time asserting my own will, my right to fall short of expectations. I didn't get straight A's. I didn't become class president. I didn't get into Stanford. I dropped out of college.

Clearly, Jing-Mei's assertion of her "own will," her "right to fall short of expectations" exemplifies the conflict between her and her mother and the two different systems of cultural values.


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