Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Barry Gibson August 24, 2012


This story takes place in Chinatown San Francisco, California.


The Characters include Jing-mei the main character, who wants to have fun. Her mother, an oppresive woman who belives her daughter is a prodigy. Her father, a man who loves his daughter for who she is not what she does.


Jing-mei's mother tries to find what Jing-mei is good at. She signs her up for things she doesnt want to do. When she gets a piano instructor to come give her lessons, she didnt kow the piano instructor was deaf. So as Jing-mei played, she could mess up and the instructor wouldnt know. Her mom believed that the lessons were going wonderfully. So she bought her a second-hand piano and enlisted her for the talent show. When he talent show came, Jing-mei belived that she could do it. But as she played she messed up multiple times, ruining the song. Her mother was blank, no expression. For the next couple of days they fought about it. Jing-mei grew up and didnt do anything her parents wanted.

Internal Conflict

Jing-mei wants to please her mother but she doesnt think she can play the piano much less want to. Her mother wants to have a succesful daughter but she doesnt want to hurt her.

External Conflict

Jing-mei cant play the piano as well as her mother wants her to, and she refusses to play after the recital.


The Theme of this story i would say is that you cant pressure your kids into doing what you want them to do, or something you couldnt do as a child that you want them to do. If they dont want to do it, their not going to be as good at it as you want them to do. Do what you love and love what you do!


The symbolism in this story is the piano. The piano symbolises Jing-mei's love for her mother and how she wants to please her. At the end of the story when she takes the piano and starts playing again she notices the two songs she played as a kid. "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" representing the two halves of her life. She notices for the first time that they are two halves of the same song.

In the first part of the story there is a scene in which the daughter sees herself in the mirror. What does she see? What thematic significance could this scene have? How does it relate to the title?

In the beginning of the story Jing-mei looks in the mirro and sees a plain asian girl who cant be anymore or any less than she already is. It shows how she doesnt believe that she can be the piano player that her mother wants her to be. It shows how her mother and her have tow kinds of lives planned out. Jing-mei just wants to be her and do what she can, and her mother wants her to be a prodigy and do her very best at everything.

Two strong-willed characters are pitted against each other in this story. What went wrong in the relationship between mother and daughter?

The mother wants Jing-mei to become a prodigy piano player and Jing-mei wants to be herself and nothing more. As the story progesses, their opposite opinion brings out the worst in both orf them.

Read carefully the parts dealing with the mother’s earlier life in China. How have her earlier experiences shaped her ambitions for her daughter?

Jing-meis mother grew up in china where few opportunities occur, so she wants her daughter to take advantage of all the opportunities she can.