Two Kinds Summary - Amy Tan - Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition
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Two Kinds (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition) Printable Version Download PDF Cite this Page Ask a Question Share
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Author: Amy Tan First Published: 1989 Type of Plot: Vignette Time of Work: The late 1980's Setting: San Francisco Principal Characters: Jing-Mei “June” Woo, Suyuan Woo Genres: Social realism, Short fiction Subjects: North America or North Americans, United States or Americans, Mothers, Parents and children, 1980’s, California, West, U.S., Asia or Asians, San Francisco, Pacific Northwest, Asian Americans, China or Chinese people, Chinese Americans Locales: San Francisco, CA
A young Chinese American woman, Jing-Mei “June” Woo, recalls, after her mother's death, her mother's sadness at having left her twin baby girls in China in 1949. June has used her mother's regret as a weapon in a battle of wills focusing on what her mother wants her to be and what she wants. June wins, leaving her mother, Suyuan, stunned when she says she wishes she were dead like the twins. Although this scene characterizes the common struggle for power between mother and daughter, the story also illustrates the cultural division between an Asian immigrant and her Asian American daughter. These cultural clashes resonate throughout the short story, as does the discordant sound of June's piano playing. Wanting her daughter to be an American prodigy, Suyuan Woo epitomizes the mother living through her child. With the American ideal that you can be anything you want, she prepares and coaches June into becoming a Chinese Shirley Temple. June believes in her mother's dreams for her and admits she was filled with a sense that she would soon become perfect.
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She and her mother, who cleans houses for extra money, begin searching through the latest American magazines, such as Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest, for stories of child prodigies. Every evening her mother tests her relentlessly for intellectual prowess, such as knowing all the world capitals and multiplying large numbers in her head. June grows resentful as she sees the disappointment on her mother's face as she fails to measure up to her expectations. Discovering a powerful side of herself, June resolves not to become something she is not simply to please her mother. One evening while watching The Ed Sullivan Show on television, her mother sees a young Chinese girl play the piano with great skill. Much to June's chagrin, her mother strikes up a deal with a retired piano teacher, Mr. Chong, who agrees to give June piano lessons in exchange for weekly housecleanings. June soon discovers that Old Mr. Chong is deaf, like the great composer Ludwig von Beethoven. Ultimately, June must appear in a talent show to display her great talent. Her mother invites all of her friends from the Joy Luck Club, a group of four Chinese women who meet regularly to play mah-jongg, a parlor game, and socialize. Knowing she is not prepared but somehow thinking...
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