Dr. Jennifer MacQuarrie
Friday, February 13, 2015
Finding Identity in the Face of Adversity In the short stories Borders and Two Kinds, there are strong characters who find themselves dealing with difficult expectations from different aspects of their lives. Through the experiences of the characters, one learns that true purpose and identity is found through facing adversity, not conforming to how others think they should act. The characters that illustrate this phenomenon are Jing Mei in Two Kinds, and the mother in Borders.
In Two Kinds, Jing Mei’s mother is convinced that America is the “Land of Opportunity” and that she should find the right avenue for her daughter’s talents. When she finally finds the right fit with her daughter becoming a skilled pianist, she immediately becomes obsessed with the idea. The mother believes the promise of coming to America, that the country itself holds infinite amounts of opportunity and so if she pushes Jing Mei to be successful, her daughter will not have to undergo the hardships that she had to endure back in China. However, Jing Mei’s mother forgets the fact that the high expectation that she realizes may not be what Jing Mei wants for her life and she may be forcing her down the wrong path. By looking from Jing Mei’s perspective, one can understand the stress and how torn she is from her standpoint. Initially, Jing Mei keeps trying to reach her mother’s expectation. However after seeing her “mother’s disappointed face once again,” she felt “something inside her start to die”. This is Jing Mei’s self-esteem and pride starting to die and also the responsibility that she put upon herself to reach her mother’s expectations. As a result, Jing Mei begins to stop following her mother’s instruction as a childish sort of way to protest her mother’s expectation. By looking through the narrator’s eyes, we can understand that Jing Mei never actually hates her mother, but her decision to become unresponsive to