What does the mother in two kinds learn?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my mind, the daughter is the one who probably learns more than the mother.  Yet, the mother does learn some rather harsh truths about herself and her daughter.  The most obvious lesson learned is that she is unable to compel her daughter to live out her own dreams.  Jing- Mei is miserable in learning the piano, but the mother believes in the notion of "being anything you want in America."  She forces this vision on her daughter through piano lessons.  When Jing- Mei says what she does out of anger, the mother stops forcing the lessons and the piano goes away.  She learns that she cannot "make" her daughter accept her own dreams.  Part of this is because she learns much about herself.  The mother's own brutal past in China helps her to embrace so eagerly the notion of self definition in American dreams.  This is almost a flight from her own pain- ridden past and through Jing- Mei's rejection, the mother learns that she is unable to run away from her own past, which follows her like a shadow even though she has left it physically.