In "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan, the story is told from the daughter's point of view. How does that change the way we see the characters? Who do you sympathize with the most and why?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amy Tan's short story "Two Kinds" is told from the point of view of June, the daughter of a Chinese immigrant to San Francisco. The daughter's narration at first helps the reader understand her point of view and sympathize with her, though at the end of the story, her perspective shifts so that the reader can sympathize with the mother too.

At the beginning of the story, the mother's constant pestering of her daughter makes the reader sympathize with the daughter. For example, the daughter thinks, "And after seeing, once again, my mother's disappointed face, something inside me began to die. I hated the tests, the raised hopes and failed expectations" (pages 2-3). The reader feels sorry for the daughter for having to endure the tests and exercises her mother makes her go through. When the daughter decides to rebel, the reader is on her side. The daughter says, "I won't let her change me, I promised myself. I won't be what I'm not" (page 3). As the daughter is narrating, we know her side of the issue. Although we know that the mother suffered a great deal in China and lost her family, we don't really know why she is pushing her daughter to succeed until the end of the story.

At the story's conclusion, however, the mother has died, and the daughter comes to realize that she is thankful for the trust and belief the mother invested in her. The daughter starts playing the piano she hasn't touched in years: "I played a few bars, surprised at how easily the notes came back to me" (page 9). She plays two songs--"Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented," and she "realized that they were halves of the same song" (page 9). In other words, in the end, the daughter realizes that she has more in common with her mother than she thought, and she is thankful that her mother believed in her for all those years. After all, the daughter still has the ability to play the piano because the mother forced her to do so. It is only at the end of the story that we as readers sympathize with the mother's point of view because the daughter finally does. We understand that the mother always believed in the daughter, and the daughter only understands this reality at the end of the story.

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Two Kinds

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