Two Kinds (short story)

Today in our English class, we worked on a short story called Two Kinds written by Amy Tan. Two Kinds was first published in 1989. A short story is usually a short fiction text, who has few characters and extends over a short period of time. Amy Tan’s writing style includes a lot of conversations and few descriptions. Her story is about the relationship between two Chinese immigrants, a mother and a daughter. This short story extends over a whole lifetime but is still in the genre short story. Two Kinds has few characters, where the mother and the daughter, Jing-Mei, is the main characters. The story is told from her point of view. We follow Jing-Mei´s life, where she is struggling finding out what she wants, with her expectant mother who is in her way distracting her from making own decisions and finding out what she really likes to do.


The story is basically about Jing-Mei´s mother that has big dreams and future plans for Jing-Mei. Her mother has lost her mother, father, husband and two twin baby girls in China, and has moved to America with her only daughter. The story mostly takes place in Jing-Mei´s home in San Fransisco. The fact that her mother has lost her two twin baby girls is maybe the reason why she is so obsessed about the thoughts becoming whatever you want in America. This has given her high expectations for her only daughter. Jing-Mei´s mother wants her daughter to be a prodigy. She is trying out different prodigies, and in the beginning, Jing-Mei likes trying out different prodigies. As you grow up, your own opinions also appear. Her mother never asks what Jing-Mei wants to, and is making her big future plans.


As a parent, I think you should have a say in your children’s future plans, but also listen to what your children want to and would like to do in the future. Unlike Two Kinds, I mean that it is wrong of Jing-Mei´s mother to force Jing-Mei to do and learn stuff she does not want to, just because she has pictured plans for her. As a child, I think it is great that your parents try to have some future plans for you, but as you grow up you should be able to make your own decisions. After all, it is your life, and you that should be living it. As a child, you should not be able to decide whatever you want. It depends, of course, on the child’s age. It is for example not wise to let a 5-year old decide what he wants to eat for dinner for the rest of her life. As a teenager, it is not fine to let your parents decide it either. Your parents should always have the opportunity to give you good advice. In the end, you are always the person to decide your own future.


In the short story, Jing-Mei is forced to go to piano lessons, the mother’s method trying to make her a prodigy. Before a recital, Jing-Mei does not practice at all, so I would say she planned to fail. At the same time, she suddenly feels like a prodigy at the stage, so I think she actually is doing her best. Sadly, she maybe thought it would sound better than it did. I will say that the climax of the story is this fight between  Jing-Mei and her mother before the last piano lesson. The daughter really confronts her mother once and for all, and her mother quit the piano lessons. Jing-Mei even says she wished she was never born, something that is very cruel and personal to say. I think this is also the turning point in the story. After this fight, her mother stops pushing and planning Jing-Mei`s life.


My first thoughts about this story were that it had a boring plot. After reading behind the lines and researching about Two Kinds, I now see the story with a wider perspective. It was fun to work with, and I had a lot to write about. I think that conflicts generally is a part of growing up. It is healthy to discuss and see others point of view, not only your own`s. In the story, Jing-Mei´s mother does not know that Jing-Mei does not want to go to the piano lessons before their big conflict. Conflicts do not come destructive before you hurt someone, and are being personal. Then conflicts destroy relationships.



If you want a short summary of the short story, you should watch this video!


Full story :


One thought on “Two Kinds (short story)

  1. Glad you liked the short story and found a lot to write about. I agree with you on conflicts being necessary when growing up. If you read the whole book you would learn more about what happened to her mother in China too!


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