The Conflicts Between Mother and Daughter in “Two Kinds”

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Zheng Wang
ENC 1102 RXB3
Final draft
The Conflicts between Mother and Daughter in “Two Kinds” In the story “Two Kinds”, author Amy Tan, who is a Chinese-American, describes the conflicts in the relationship of a mother and daughter living in California. The protagonist in this story Jing-mei Woo’s mother is born and raised in China, and immigrates to the United States to escape from the Chinese Civil War. For many years she maintained complete Chinese traditional values, and has been abided by it deliberately. This kind of traditional Chinese culture has also affected her daughter profoundly. However, Jing-mei is born and raised in the United States. Despite she has a Chinese mother; she is unfamiliar and uncomfortable with Chinese culture. Jing-mei’s mother wants Jing-mei to do her best to become a pianist, to be famous in the society. When Jing-mei finds out about her mother’s decision, she becomes anxious and has some feelings to resist it in her subconscious. So she pays no interest in playing the piano on purpose, after her awful performance on the talent show of the Chinatown, she has a fierce quarrel with her mother and refuses to play piano anymore. Instead, she has her own lifestyle and does anything she wants to. Twenty years later when Jing-mei memory the past after her mother died, she still finds it hard to understand her mother’s motivation. Amy Tan reveals the conflicts between mothers and daughters who are educated under different cultural background by writing this story. There is no doubt that all mothers, under different cultural backgrounds, have a common wish, which is for their children to have a good future. To achieve this goal is very complex, especially if the family members are raised in different cultures. For a variety of reasons, conflicts will occur in the society at all levels, especially for immigrants. I think the key to understanding the story is to understand why such severe conflicts would happen between Jing-mei and her mother. To answer this question, we can analyze three different aspects: the cultural conflicts, the generation gap and unrealistic expectations. The most important reason of the family conflicts is the cultural conflict, especially those with completely different origins and histories, such as Chinese culture and American culture. For Chinese people, it is very important to be better than your colleagues, to be respected and to make sure you are not disgraced in the social nets. In order to achieve this, children should study hard to be the best they can be. However, for most Americans it is the opposite, they do not feel disgraced if they are not the best. Obviously, in “Two Kinds”, the conflicts between Jing-mei and her mother are partially because the intense relationship between them, which comes from her wishing her daughter would live her dream. The reason why Jing-mei’s mother is asking her to play piano is her mother wants her to beat Auntie Lindo’s daughter in the field of music. If Jing-mei cannot do this, her mother would feel disgraced, because Auntie Lindo’s daughter is good at playing chess, who gains a certain amount of fame as “Chinatown’s littlest Chinese Chess Champion. In the story, Jing-mei’s mother told her “Of course you can be prodigy, too. You can be best anything. What does Auntie Lindo know? Her daughter, she is only best tricky” (454). Jing-mei’s mother thought Jing-mei can be prodigy if you give her proper guidance. She thought Jing-mei can be the best while actually Jing-mei does not have such talent. In fact, Jing-mei did very badly on the talent show of the Chinatown, and eventually she refused to play the piano any more. Obviously, forcing the daughter to become a genius for fear of being disgraced is one of the reasons of the conflicts. This is also one of the characteristics of Chinese culture, unfortunately Jing-mei cannot understand it, because she is born and raised under a completely different cultural background. Another...
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