What is the symbolism of the song “Pleading Child" in "Two Kinds"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“Pleading Child” is symbolic of Jing-mei’s conflict with her mother.  She does not realize until later that she could have been happy if she had communicated with her mother better.

The song Jing-mei has to play at the concert is called “Pleading Child” but the second half is “Perfectly Contended.”  When Jing-mei returns to look at the song later in life, she realizes that they are two halves of the same song.

When Jin-mei looks at the song as an adult, it “looks more difficult” than she remembered, but it easily comes back to her.

And for the first time, or so it seemed, I noticed the piece on the right-hand side. It was called "Perfectly Contented." I tried to play this one as well. It had a lighter melody but with the same flowing rhythm and turned out to be quite easy. 

As it turns out, the two parts of the same song represent the two parts of Jing-mei.  As an adult, she can finally be contented.  Unfortunately, her mother is not there to see it. 

Jing-mei thought the sad song was easy as a child, and did not see the happy song.  This shows that as a child she had talent but was too frustrated to nurture it.  As an adult, she has finally become content with herelf.

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Two Kinds

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