What does America represent to the mother in "Two Kinds?"

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beateach | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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In Amy Tan’s short story, “Two Kinds” America represents the opportunity to be whatever you want to be. Having lost her mother, father, first husband, and twin daughters in China, the mother sees America as the place where things could get better. She could erase her past with a new future, a future filled with hope. She works tirelessly and attempts to make her daughter into a child prodigy by finding a talent that suits the girl. Many failed attempts put a great strain on the mother-daughter relationship. Finally, when the daughter asserts her will, the mother is stunned that her daughter did not want to be “something” she simply wanted to be herself. The mother questioned how this could be. “Only two kinds of daughters,” she shouted in Chinese, “Those who are obedient, and those who follow their own mind.” Her daughter rebuffed her. The irony is that, in America, the daughter became what she wanted to be. She was never the best, never truly lived up to her mother’s expectations, but she was herself.

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