In The Joy Luck Club, what are the most important steps in the development of Jingmei and why are they so important?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most important stages in the development of the character of Jing Mei is undoubtedly when she finally confronts her mother with her anger at being forced into being somebody she simply feels she is not. This occurs in the chapter "Two Kinds," and is when, following her disastrous first piano recital, Jing Mei has a shouting match with her mother. What happens next is that Jing Mei finally asserts her right to fail and rejects the attempts of her mother to mould her character:

It was not the only disappointment my mother felt in me. In the years that followed, I failed her many times, each time asserting my will, my right to fall short of expectations. I didn't get straight As. I didn't become class president. I didn't get into Stanford. I dropped out of college.

Unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be, I could only be me.

This is actually not as negative as it seems, because one of the important lessons that Jing Mei has to learn is to accept herself for who she is rather than the other version of her that her mother seems to want to create. She takes the first step in becoming the person she has always been and accepting her limitations, focusing on what she is rather than what she isn't.

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