What does the title "Two Kinds" signify, and how does it relate to the piano pieces "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented"?

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The title "Two Kinds" denotes the shift in Jing-Mei's feelings towards her mother, symbolized by the piano pieces "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented." As a child, Jing-Mei is the "Pleading Child," resisting her mother's plans to mold her into a prodigy. As she matures, she becomes "Perfectly Contented," understanding her mother's intentions were to ensure her success. The two halves of the same song represent Jing-Mei's transition from a resentful child to a content adult, acknowledging her mother's sacrifices.

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In "Two Kinds," "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" have a double meaning in the story because they represent the changing feelings of Jing-Mei towards her mother. When she is a young child, for example, Jing-Mei can be characterized as a "Pleading Child" because she fights against her mother's plans to turn her into a child prodigy. She does not want to sing or play the piano; she just wants her mother to accept her as she is.

As Jing-Mei gets older, however, she becomes "Perfectly Contented" because she realizes that her mother never intended to upset her or make her feel inadequate. All she truly wanted was for Jing-Mei to be successful. As an adult, she realizes this when she looks at her piano and feels "proud," as though it were a trophy that she had "won back." In other words, she has finally come to understand her mother's motivation.

Through the last sentence of the story, the author demonstrates the appropriateness of the title, "Two Kinds." As an adult, she realizes and accepts that this conflict between herself and her mother is a normal and natural part of the mother/daughter relationship. As such, "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" represent the two sides of this often rocky relationship.

That the author had to play them both a "few times" is also significant because it shows that it takes age and experience to really understand that these early conflicts between herself and her mother were just a normal part of growing up.

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Jing-Mei realizes, years later, that "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" are two halves of the same song.  As an impetuous and head-strong child, the narrator doesn't appreciate all that her mother does for her.  As an adult she realizes all that her mother tried to do for her - buying her a piano, arranging lessons, pushing and motivating her.  She just wanted Jing-Mei to have a better life than she did.   Because she was so young and stubborn, she never was able to value all that her mother sacrificed for her.  However, after her mother's death, she examines the song book and realizes that "Pleading Child," is only half of the song.  The other half is "Perfectly Contented."  This symbolically stands for our narrator.  She used to be a pleading child, who never appreciated what her mother was trying to do for her.  But now as an adult, she is - maybe not perfectly contented - but she is much more content than she was as a child.  Jing-Mei has developed her own talents and abilities, which was really what her mother wanted her to do all along.

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How do "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" have a double meaning in the story "Two Kinds"? What does the last sentence of the story mean?

Amy Tan and her mother share a complicated relationship, as is true of most mothers and daughters. The very title of "Two Kinds" hints at this and also at the final two pieces referenced in the end of this story.

On one hand, Tan is the "Pleading Child." She wants her mother to accept her with all of her shortcomings. She is weary of trying to live up to all of her mother's hopes and dreams. She wants to give up on becoming the genius that her mother believes her to be. But, after an outburst about the piano lessons, her mother wants her to continue. Tan is told:

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

Tan then hits her mother with a painful blow and tells her that she'd rather be dead—like the babies her mother lost.

On the other hand, she grows to be "Perfectly Contented" with what their relationship is. Tan won the argument and never had to take lessons again. And in retrospect she is disappointed because she feels like her mother gave up on her. She never asks her mother why she had set goals so high for Tan that failure seemed inevitable and never asks why she lost hope. However, Tan's mother actually gifts her with the piano for her thirtieth birthday and tells her, "You only one can play . . . You pick up fast . . . You could be a genius if you want to." After this, she views the piano differently, like a "shiny trophy" and notes, "It made me feel proud."

From her mother's point of view, she witnessed this "Pleading Child" floundering for goals and tried to help Tan find her strengths. However, she seems "Perfectly Contented" with the way her daughter emerges into her adulthood. She is proud of her, despite the fact that she never proved herself a genius.

In the last line, Tan writes, "I realized they were both halves of the same song." Her mother has passed away by the end, and Tan realizes that their experience was complex. They both struggled and they had found contentment with each other. The entire experience created their song, together.

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How do "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" have a double meaning in the story "Two Kinds"? What does the last sentence of the story mean?

The two songs and the last line of the story illustrate the same idea. "And after I had played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song." The two songs symbolize the two parts of Jing-mei's life and psyche. The title, "Two Kinds," also plays into this notion of the double. 

First of all, Jing-mei is a Chinese-American girl. Her mother has certainly embraced the American spirit, notably in pushing her daughter to pursue the American Dream. But her mother's Chinese culture, the parental pressuring, and the domineering nature that may come from that culture are present to Jing-mei as a child. Jing-mei must deal with this while trying to be more individually free. And this idea of individual freedom was more celebrated in America at this time. So, apropos of the "two kinds" theme, Jing-mei must negotiate two cultures as she matures. 

But in particular reference to the two songs, the "Pleading Child" represents the time Jing-mei was tested and forced to practice piano as a child. When Jing-mei is finally free from this discipline, she becomes more individually free and feels more like the "Perfectly Contented" child/woman. In the last line, Jing-mei realizes that these two songs/identities are both a part of her, and with that realization, she feels whole. Likewise, she is both Chinese and American. Although, by adulthood, she is probably more American in many ways, she still has elements of both cultures. She has this sense that her unified identity is a series of doubles: Chinese/American, Pleading/Contented, and Traditional/Individual. 

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