What is the main conflict in "Two Kinds"?

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The main conflict in the story Two Kinds was the struggle between what the daughter wanted and what her mother wanted for her, based on the background and cultural differences between the two. The mother was an Asian immigrant who aspired to live the American dream through her Asian American daughter. Although the story brought to the fore the common mother daughter conflict, it went further to elaborate the different beliefs and aspirations between the two characters.

The mother arrived in America after a horrific exodus from China where she was forced to leave behind her twin daughters. On arrival, she worked extra hard to ensure her daughter, June, would live a more fulfilling life based on her idea of the American dream. She tried to train her daughter into a prodigy, enrolling her in different courses, in an attempt to develop her skills towards the goal. At first the daughter supported and believed in her mother’s dream, until she realized that she needed to live her own life. This created conflict between mother and daughter with the daughter resisting the prodigy training her mother was focused on.

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In "Two Kinds," how is the conflict resolved?

The conflict that rages throughout this short story between Jing-Mei and her mother does find resolution towards the end, which is when Jing-Mei's mother offers her daughter the piano. This interestingly comes after Jing-Mei reports how over the years she persistently fails her mother by not meeting up to her high expectations of her. What signifies that this symbolises a resolution is the way that Jing-Mei describes the piano as she looks at it in the following quote:

And after that, everytime I saw it in my parents' living room, standing in front of the bay window, it made me feel proud, as if it were a shiny trophy that I had won back.

The description of the piano as being a "shiny trophy" that Jing-Mei had won back herself through her own efforts shows us that finally her mother has been forced to accept Jing-Mei for who she is rather than who she isn't, and that their conflict has resolved itself. After so many years of trying to be a person who she wasn't, Jing-Mei's determination to only be herself and live the kind of life she wants to live have forced her mother to realise that Jing-Mei can only ever be the person that she is rather than the person she would want her to be.

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