Student Question

Why does Jing-Mei despise her mother's tests in "Two Kinds"?

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In the Amy Tan short story "Two Kinds," Jing-Mei resents the tests her mother gives her. Her mother gives her tests in a misguided attempt to turn her daughter into some kind of prodigy. Jing-Mei performs badly on these tests, and she is frustrated and humiliated. She hates the tests because they make her feel like a failure and like part of herself is withering and dying. She decides that being a prodigy is going to be about resisting what her mother wants for her in any way she can, not from actually doing anything special.

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Jing-Mei, the narrator in the Amy Tan short story "Two Kinds," resents the tests her mother gives her. Her mother gives her tests in a misguided attempt to turn her daughter into some kind of prodigy. The mother demands that Jing-Mei multiply numbers in her head and recall parts of the Bible after spending a few minutes staring at a page.

Jing-Mei performs badly on these tests, and she is frustrated and humiliated. She says, "And after seeing, once again, my mother's disappointed face, something inside me began to die. I hated the tests, the raised hopes and failed expectations." She feels like a part of herself is withering and dying when being subjected to the tests because she can never meet her mother's expectations. Instead, she looks in the mirror and sees an angry reflection of herself. At that moment, she decides what her way of being a prodigy is going to be. Her sense of being special and powerful is going to come from resisting her mother. And, after failing all the tests, she turns to outwitting her mother and resisting what her mother wants in any way she can. 

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