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A Mother/Daughter Conflict in Amy Tan's "Two Kinds" and "Best Qua...

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A Mother/Daughter Conflict in Amy Tan's "Two Kinds" and "Best Quality".

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  • August 23, 2005
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Amy Tan's "Two Kinds" and "Best Quality" depict a struggling and often stressful relationship between a defiant daughter and an overbearing mother. June Mei and her mother Suyuan engage in a destructive battle between what is possible and what is realistic. June, although headstrong, seeks her mother's approval and adoration. Suyuan, although patronizing, yearns for her daughter's obedience and best qualities. The relationship between mother and daughter falls victim to tension inherent in any mother/daughter struggle, especially between first-generation American daughters and their immigrant mothers (Yglesias 1). Their inability to understand one another largely stems from cultural differences; Suyuan is a Chinese woman who flees to America for a better life, while June is destined to demonstrate her self-worth as a Chinese-American. Due to distressed communicational nets, June and Suyuan maintain a staggering relationship, which ultimately ends in Suyuan's poignant acceptance of her daughter's individuality and cultural evolution.

One of the most prominent cultural barriers June and Suyuan suffer from is communication. Suyuan remains a cultural alien in America because she is a first generation immigrant from mainland China (Xu 3). As a result, Suyuan speaks Chinese and broken English, while June speaks English and fractured Chinese. Furthermore, the communication barrier seems to be two-fold: between generations and cultures (Shear 194). The first generational and cultural gap materializes in "Two Kinds" when June announces her adolescent defiance by saying, "Why don't you like me the way I am? I'm not a genius!" Her overbearing mother retorts in her fragile English, "Who ask you be genius? Only ask you be your best. For you sake ..." (Tan 597). This short dialogue is extremely significant as it reveals the cultural tension between Suyuan and June, thus causing a bitter mother/daughter conflict. June's difficulty in comprehending her mother echoes Suyuan's...