The narrator of "Two Kinds" is a Chinese American Girl who is in a constant struggle with her mother over her identity. The struggle begins when the family moves to America after losing everything in China.
The mother and child watch Shirley Temple movies and read stories in magazines about remarkable children, in attempts to try and imagine the child as a prodigy. They even have the child's hair cut to make her look like the star.
The mother's ambitions for her child take shape one night while watching a nine year old Chinese girl play the piano on the Ed Sullivan show. The mother quickly arranges for piano lessons. The daughter lies about practice times and does only what she has to do during the lessons. Her mother is unaware of her lack of participation.
At the piano recital, the child is confident and proud when it is her turn. However, her awful and unpracticed playing embarrasses her family as well as herself. The mother insists on continuing piano lessons and literally has to drag the child to the bench to play. The child continues the rebellion and goes so far as to say she wished she were not her mother's child.
The cruel and hurtful statement silences her mother and piano lessons cease. On the narrator's thirtieth birthday, the mother offers to give her the piano, who interprets is as a peace offering, although she is still unable to comprehend her mother's motivations.
Word count = 245
Tan, Amy. "Two Kinds". Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 8th ed. Eds.
Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs, New Jersey, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. 194-