In this chapter of The Joy Luck Club, Jing-Mei details Suyuan's quest to help her attain prodigy status in some form of talent or activity. Various knowledge, memory, and talent tests fail to reveal a reserve of hidden genius, so Suyuan enrolls Jing-Mei in piano lessons after watching a young Chinese pianist perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Jing-Mei resents her mother's desire to turn her into a prodigy, and responds by treating the piano lessons as a joke, refusing to practice sincerely or put effort into learning her piece for the talent show.
After performing terribly in front of talent show spectators, Jing-Mei informs her mother that she won't be playing the piano anymore, accusing Suyuan of wanting her to be a perfect daughter instead of herself. Suyuan's response to Jing-Mei is that "Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!" Jing-Mei's cruel reply is that "I wish I wasn't your daughter. I wish you weren't my mother...I wish I were dead! Like them." With this cruel insult, Jing-Mei refers to the two babies Suyuan was forced to abandon on the side of the road when fleeing Kweilin on foot, a hurtful reminder of a tragedy that has haunted Suyuan for decades.