What is the significance of the twins baby girls in the short story "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan?
In "Two Kinds," the twin baby girls play a significant role for Jing-mei's mother. In fact, they provided the impetus for the mother to come to America in 1949. She had lost everything in China, including these twin girls, and wanted to start a new life. Believing that anything is possible in America, the mother selected San Francisco as her destination.
Looking deeper, it could be argued that the loss of these twin girls explains why the mother is so determined to make Jing-mei a child prodigy. Because their lives were tragically cut short, the mother is, perhaps, projecting all of the hopes and dreams that she had for these twin girls on to Jing-mei.
While this projection creates considerable conflict between Jing-mei and her mother, the reader can interpret it as a direct reaction to the trauma of losing two children.
When the narrator's mother arrives in San Francisco in 1949, she has left behind a life a tragedy in China. Her entire family perished there, including her parents, her first husband, and her twin girls. The girls stand for everything that she has lost and all the hopes she has now transferred to her life in the United States. The mother hopes that her daughter, Jing-Mei, will in some ways make up for what she lost in China by becoming a prodigy and that her daughter will live up to the promise of America. The loss of her twin girls motivates the mother to put all her hopes and dreams onto her daughter, and she burdens Jing-Mei with the expectation that she will become something great merely because she exists in a country that offers a great deal of opportunity.