Two Kinds Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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What does Jing-Mei's mother want for her daughter?

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In Amy Tan’s story “Two Kinds,” Jing-mei’s mother wants her daughter to live the American Dream. She believes America is the land of endless opportunities. Specifically, she wants her daughter to be a prodigy. Unfortunately, her mother does not understand what a prodigy is. By definition, a prodigy is a person who has a natural, innate talent or area of expertise that it far above others, especially in children.

"Of course, you can be a prodigy, too," my mother told me when I was nine. "You can be best anything.”

In the beginning, both mother and daughter foster the prodigy idea. They spend hours deciding on Jing-mei's area of expertise. Should she be a ballerina, an actor, or a musician? The pair read magazines and watch television programs as they decide which talent Jing-mei should aspire to. Her mother believes her daughter can be the best at anything if she works hard and practices. Jing-mei has a vision of being the perfect child if only she can determine her area of expertise. They try a number of things before settling on the piano. Unfortunately, Jing-mei never practices enough to play well, and she definitely is not a child prodigy on the piano. This leads to a rift between the pair.

"Why don't you like me the way I am?" I cried. "I'm not a genius! I can't play the piano. And even if I

could, I wouldn't go on TV if you paid me a million dollars!"

My mother slapped me. "Who ask you to be genius?" she shouted. "Only ask you be your best. For you sake. You think I want you to be genius? Hnnh! What for! Who ask you!”

Jing-mei’s mother wants the best for her daughter but does not understand that success comes in many different forms.

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