What does the setting reveal about the experience of Asian immigrants in their first years in the United States?

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Amy Tan's short story "Two Kinds" takes place in San Francisco in roughly the 1950s. The setting suggests that Asian immigrants have to work very hard to succeed and that they are willingly absorbing parts of American culture while still retaining some values from China.

In the story, the narrator's mother lost her family, including her parents, first husband, and baby twin girls, in China, but the mother works hard to make a good life for her daughter in San Francisco and to succeed. The story reads, "My mother got these magazines from people whose houses she cleaned. And since she cleaned many houses each week, we had a great assortment. She would look through them all, searching for stories about remarkable children" (page 2). The mother clearly works hard cleaning houses all day, but she is also hungry to learn more about American culture any way she can, in part to help her daughter succeed by becoming a child prodigy. 

Here is another passage from the story that shows the mother's approach to life in the United States:

"And then one day my mother was watching the Ed Sullivan Show on TV. The TV was old and the sound kept shorting out. Every time my mother got halfway up from the sofa to adjust the set, the sound would come back on and Sullivan would be talking" (page 3).

This passage also shows that the mother is poor, as the TV is old. She is also eager to learn more about the United States by watching the Ed Sullivan Show, a popular television show at the time. Although the mother is new to the country and has to work hard, she wants to do whatever she can to help her family succeed in America. Asian immigrants at this time often struggled to get by, but they hoped their children would lead a better life.

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