What happens when the narrator of "Two Kinds" performs at the talent show?

When the narrator performs at the talent show, her failure to really try to learn the instrument and piece becomes clear. She admits that she "dawdled" when she practiced and really didn't pay attention, and her deaf piano teacher was none the wiser. The narrator was so focused on how pretty everything looked that she forget to think about how everything would sound. Witnessing her mother's embarrassment and devastation afterward made her feel terrible.

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When the narrator, Jing-mei, performed at a local talent show, it became incredibly clear that she had not really learned the piece. As an adult, she admits, "I never really listened to what I was playing. I daydreamed about being somewhere else, about being someone else." The crowd is full of her mother's and father's friends, all of whom her mother proudly invited, as well as the children of those friends; so many people, and yet Jing-mei "had no fear whatsoever." She did not feel nervous at all. She really seemed to believe that there was a "prodigy" inside of her, as her mother had insisted, and she reveled in the beauty of her dress and her big pink bow. However, once she began to hit wrong notes, she just could not stop, and the piece ended on "sour notes." Although her deaf piano teacher is pleased with her performance, Jing-mei's mother's face is "stricken" and she hears whispers from the audience on her way back to her seat. To her, it felt as if the "whole world" had watched her fail, and she "felt the same of [her] mother and father" as they continued to sit proudly through the remainder of the talent show. In the end, Jing-mei was "devastated" by her mother's expression, "a quiet, blank look that said she had lost everything." And Jing-mei, too, felt this way. She happily assumed that this would be the end of her career at the piano, but her mother still expected her to practice each day, and this resulted in the terrible fight between mother and daughter.

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