Mr. Chong—also known as Old Chong—is Jing-mei's deaf and partially blind piano teacher. When she realizes that he can't hear the music, she stops trying to hit the right notes; when she sees that he can't read fast enough to follow the sheet music, she just keeps up the rhythm and he is pleased. At her disastrous recital he is the only one who cheers enthusiastically. Father
The narrator's father makes only a token appearance in the story. He is not involved in the mother-daughter struggle over piano lessons. He does attend the recital; in fact, the narrator can't tell if he is horrified or silently amused at her performance. Jing-mei
Jing-mei is a rebellious child caught between two cultures: the Chinese culture that prevails in her mother's home; and the American one that prevails everywhere else. She resists her mother's attempts at discipline and resents the pressures of high achievement that immigrant parents typically place on their children. She also understands that her mother is using her to win a competition with her friend Lindo Jong; both women brag about whose daughter is more talented. She is resolved to be true to herself and not take part in such a competition. Refusing to practice the piano, she tells her mother that she wishes she were dead, like the babies she knows her mother was forced to abandon when she fled China. She regrets saying such hurtful things later. Lindo Jong
Also called Auntie Lindo, she is married to Uncle Tin and is the mother of Waverly, the precocious chess prodigy who is the narrator's rival. Lindo goads the narrator's mother into bragging about her daughter's dubious musical talent. Waverly Jong
‘‘Chinatown's Littlest Chinese Chess Champion," Waverly Jong is Auntie Lindo's daughter. She and the narrator have grown up together and have long been competing with one another. Mother
The narrator's mother is a Chinese immigrant who wants her daughter to have the best of both worlds: Chinese tradition and...