What is the comparison between "Two Kinds" and The Glass Menagerie?

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merricat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Two Kinds" by Amy Tan and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams both explore the complex relationships between mothers and daughters.

In each case, the mother exerts powerful control over the daughter, almost living through the young woman. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda Wingfield is a former southern belle who is obsessed with having her pathologically shy daughter Laura entertain a gentleman caller. Her dream is to see her daughter suitably matched and comfortably settled. It was her personal dream as a young woman and it went wrong. Now she wants Laura to have some kind of skill to pursue a career and forces her to take typing classes.

In “Two Kinds,” June’s mother desires her to become a famous child prodigy. She sacrifices to provide her with piano lessons because she wants to see her daughter become rich and famous. June’s mother believes this will help June achieve the American Dream of wealth and freedom that she never had as a young woman in war-torn mainland China.

Neither mother considers what her daughter may want; they both believe they know entirely what is best and expect complete obedience. Both Laura and June deceive their mothers and pretend to be following instructions. Soon enough the mothers discover their daughters’ lies.

Laura quit typing class after one session because her nerves were too frail to take the pressure. Instead she walked in parks and wandered around the city to pretend she was going to class rather than face her mother’s disappointment and anger.

June discovers her piano teacher is deaf and takes advantage of this by skipping lessons and practices. When she has a recital her terrible performance reveals the truth.

But each daughter handles the revelation of her deceit differently. Laura capitulates and remains under her mother’s control; June rebels and verbally lashes out at her mother, causing a hurt that lasts years.

Read the study guide:
The Glass Menagerie

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