What was the "something" inside of the narrator that "began to die" in "Two Kinds"? 

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Amy Tan's story "Two Kinds," Jing-mei at first cooperates with her mother's efforts to turn her into a "prodigy." She engages in fantasies about becoming a famous actress, and she believes that someday she will become "perfect." However, when her mother begins quizzing her to try to see if she can be an intellectual prodigy, Jing-mei becomes bored and discouraged, especially when she sees her "mother's disappointed face once again." So something inside her dies. It is her belief that she will ever achieve the level of perfection her mother is looking for, which she labels "the prodigy in me." She takes a good look at her face in the mirror and reaches the conclusion that she will always be "ordinary." Another way of understanding what "died" in her, however, is to consider that it was her desire to please her mother that expired. Instead of working hard to arrive at the moment when her "mother and father would adore [her, when she] would be beyond reproach," she gives up requiring their approval in order to be okay. That is why, after the prodigy in her dies, she finds a girl in the mirror who is "angry, powerful." She has forsaken the need for others' approval and has chosen to be herself, a quality that continues to grow over the years as she asserts her will over her mother's.