Literary Devices in "Two Kinds"
Meghan Lively August 28
The story takes place in San Frasisco, California. The main character, Jing-mei, lives in a small apartment in the Chinatown section of the city. Chinatown is a large area within the city where a vast amount of Oriental people live.
The main character is a little Chinese girl named Jing-mei whose mother wants her to become a prodigy. Her mother becomes a bit of an antagonist at one point, due to the fact that she forces her daughter to do all kinds of things that would make the daughter a prodigy, despite the fact that Jing-mei does not want to do anything. Jing-mei took lessons from an old, blind, and deaf piano teacher because of her mother. The main character's father is mentioned, but plays a very small role in the entire book.
Jing-mei moved from China with her family, and her mother wants her to be a prodigy. Her mother then tests her on all kinds of things to see what she is good at, and eventually settles on piano lessons. She forces her daughtyer to play, which then causes Jing-mei to rebel and do horribly on piano. The main character then messes up at a talent show and embarasses herself and her family and never plays piano again after a fight with her mother. Many years later, she goes back to her parents' apartment and reflects on her life, while playing the piano.
The main character struggled with harself internally. She wondered if she should try, or if she should never do anything at all. Eventually, she gave in and never tried at anything at all.
Jing-mei struggled outwardly with her mother. They yelled and argued with each other, and refused to do certain things. Jing-mei then reacted outwardly by not trying at all to play piano. By outwardly rebelling, she set herself up for dissapointment.
A theme from "Two Kinds" is that you do not always know what is best for yourself. Jing-mei thought that she knew how she should run her life by not trying to do what her mother wanted her to do. In reality, her mother was just trying to do what probably in the long run be the best for Jing-mei.
At the end of the book, when Jing-mei was at her parents apartment, she played a piano piece. That piece was actually split into two parts; a fast, short part, and a slow, long part. She then relized that the piece represented a relationship. A relationship that involved two seperate parts to form a beautiful, well thought out whole.
Jing-mei sees two girls in the mirror. One is a sad, scared little girl who is tired of listening to her mother. The other is a proud, strong, and fierce competitive child. The second girl is the prodigy side of her. She wants to have both sides, the two kinds of her identity, bu tshe knows that only one can win.
Jing-mei and her mother were against each other from the very beginning. Jing-mei's mother was always forcing her to answer questions to prove that Jing-mei was a prodigy. Her mother would push her to her limits, always trying to get Jing-mei to be the best she could be. Jing-mei of course, wanted to live her own life, do what she wanted to do in her spare time, and thus the battles began.
Jing-mei's mother lost two children in her native land of China. That must have been a tragic time for her, and redefined her outlook on life. She must have thought her daughter should be the best she could be, and to do that she must help her along the way. She must have also felt that she should not waste any time she had with her daughter.