In "Two Kinds", is the daughter as unreasonable as the mother?

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Both the mother and daughter are unreasonable in “Two Kinds.”  The mother wants her daughter to be something she is not, and the daughter will not give her mother a chance.

As an adult, June looks back at the feud between herself and her mother as a loss of communication.  The two of them want something from each other, but they are both disappointed because they are not able to communicate their needs.

June (the Americanized version of Jing-mei) does not have any special talents.  Her mother wants her to be successful, so she decides to make her a prodigy.  At first, June is interested in trying to comply.

In fact, in the beginning I was just as excited as my mother, maybe even more so. I pictured this prodigy part of me as many different images, and I tried each one on for size.

June might have been more willing to learn to play the piano if her mother had not forced so many other talents on her first.  As it was, she was sick of the whole thing by the time her mother traded house cleaning for piano lessons and practice with Mr. Chong.

Mr. Chong, it turns out, could not hear.  So June once again had no incentive to learn the piano.  However, June should have told her mother that her teacher was incompetent.

June’s mother was unreasonable when she pulled her daughter to the piano bench.

She snapped off the TV, yanked me by the arm and pulled me off the floor. She was frighteningly strong, half pulling, half carrying me towards the piano as I kicked the throw rugs under my feet. 

However, June was unreasonable when she said she wished she was dead like her mother’s twin babies in China.  This hurt June’s mother terribly, and in the end they both hurt each other irrevocably.

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Do you think the daughter is just as unreasonable as the mother in "Two Kinds"?

In your question you are asked to state an opinion of the mother and daughter in Amy Tan’s story “Two Kinds.” In order to form an opinion of whether the daughter is as unreasonable as the mother, you must agree the mother is unreasonable.

As you read the story, look for evidence to support your opinion. My opinion is that both characters are unreasonable, but for very different reasons. The mother’s actions are based on her history of oppression in China, and the loss of her whole family including her twin daughters. After her long journey to America, she is determined her daughter will live the “American Dream.” She places a rigid work ethic on herself and expects her daughter to do the same. She believes in America, you can be anything, and instills that belief in her daughter.

“Of course, you can be a prodigy, too," my mother told me when I was nine. "You can be best anything.”

Unfortunately, she is determined to make her daughter into a prodigy, which she believes will come of hard work and obedience. In reality, prodigies are born with an innate ability to perform high above normal standards at a specific skill. Unfortunately, the mother does not understand this concept, and places unreasonable demands on her daughter.

The daughter, Jing-Mei “June” Woo, initially believes her mother and is excited about being a prodigy, but when the time comes to practice and perform on the piano, she realizes that she is not “special.” After a failed piano concert, the two have a hateful exchange, during which the daughter pushes her mother too far.

"Only two kinds of daughters," she shouted in Chinese. "Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!"

"Then I wish I weren't your daughter, I wish you weren't my mother," I shouted. As I said these things I got scared. It felt like worms and toads and slimy things crawling out of my chest, but it also felt good, that this awful side of me had surfaced, at last.

"Too late to change this," my mother said shrilly.

And I could sense her anger rising to its breaking point. I wanted see it spill over. And that's when I remembered the babies she had lost in China, the ones we never talked about. "Then I wish I'd never been born!" I shouted. “I wish I were dead! Like them."

As she reaches adolescence, she completely defies her mother by going to the opposite extreme by refusing to practice or work hard in school. Instead she does the bare minimum to get by, which she knows makes her mother angry and distant. The rift between mother and daughter is deep and long-lasting. Although June is attempting to assert her individuality, she is hateful and aloof. Her actions are indicative of her unreasonableness and inability to understand her mother’s history.

The two characters demonstrate how unreasonable they can be by allowing their words to create a rift that is not forgiven until it is too late for the mother and daughter to realize their irrationality and enjoy each other as adults.

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