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Concerning Amy Tan's "Two Kinds," the enotes Study Guide on the story lists two themes.  I'll cite the two it mentions and explain them.

  • The American Dream:  Immigrants are often influenced by the American Dream, and in this story the mother, obviously unable to attain it herself, possesses an all-encompassing desire to make her daughter do so.  Her unrealistic expectations ruin the relationship between her daughter and herself.
  • Identity:  The mother sees herself always as a Chinese wife and mother.  She attempts to force her daughter into the mold she has in mind for her.  The daughter struggles with finding her own identity, and rejects the mold her mother wants to force her into. 

The mother attempts to live vicariously through her daughter, and force her into an unrealistic mold.  The daughter, unable to meet her mother's unrealistic expectations, rebels.

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