Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Grayson Dent and Ward Gregory 8/24/12


The setting of the short story, "Two Kinds" is in Chinatown, in San Fransisco, California in The 1950's.


The characters of this story are Jeng-Mei a young chinese girl who's mother, tries to get her to become a prodigy. Mr, Chong, an older deaf man that teaches Jeng-Mei how to play.  Waverly Jong, Jeng-Mei's cousin who is "Chinatown's Littlest Chinese Chess Champion."


Jeng-Mei's mother has always wanted her to be a prodigy. But, she does not have the same dreams as her mother. She tries many things and her mom decides she is going to play piano. She had a piano performance with all of her friends, family, and her piano teacher in attendence; She ended up playing horribly and disappointed her mom. Her and her mom got in a fight and her mom never made her play again. Finally at the end of the story she plays the piano!

Internal Conflict

Jeng Mei does not want to listen to her mom and become a prodigy.

External Conflict

Jeng Mei does not want to play the piano after the recital. But, her mom drags and to the pian and tries to make her play.


The theme of the story is forgiveness and not holding a grudge. Jeng Mei learns this throughout the story and eventually forgives her mom for wanting her to be successful. 


One example of symbolism in the story is when Jeng-Mei's mom offers Jeng-Mei the piano back when she is older, it is a sign of forgiveness because her mom forgives her after everything they have been through. 

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 first part of the story, Jeng-Mei sees an angry, powerful girl, she now realizes that she does not have to do what her mom says. She also realizes that there are two sides of her.

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

The and mother were both very stubborn. The mother tried to make Jeng-Mei become a prodigy, which Jeng-Mei did not want to do. That caused them to disagree and fight.

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

Jeng-Mei's mother lost two girls, and she wanted Jeng-Mei to be successful and become a prodigy. She believed you could be anything in America, and she wanted that to be true for Jeng-Mei.