Two Kinds Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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Describe How Jing-mei's Character Traits Change Or Stay The Same Throughout The Story. What Are Her Motivations? What Conflicts Lead To Her Character Traits?

In "Two Kinds", what are Jing-Mei's characteristics?

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In “Two Kinds ,” the narrator Jing-mei’s character is dynamic, evolving as she goes through life. It is particularly interesting to view the evolution of Jing-mei’s characteristics in the context of her identity as an American woman of Chinese origin. As the story begins, Jing-mei is an affable, agreeable child who wants to make her ambitious mother proud by adopting different persona, from a “Chinese Shirley Temple” to a precocious magician who can find the Queen in any deck of cards, to a piano-playing prodigy. Jing-mei’s mother wants her to be perfect so she can succeed in...

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Jing-Mei’s dominant characteristic is to make her own way as an independent person despite her origins as a Chinese-American. This leads her to the stubbornness, hardness, and even cruelty that she evidences in the story. The fact that she is telling the story at all, however, indicates the regret she feels at the way she responded to her mother. Paragraph 79 is worth classroom discussion in this regard, particularly  this sentence: "In the years that followed, I failed her so many times, each time asserting my own will, my right to fall short of expectations."

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