Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Carter Vance 8-24-12


This story takes place in San Francisco, California in Chinatown. It is one of the largest Chinese communities in all of California.


Jing-mei and her mom fight with each other throughout the entire story. Her mom is a Chinese immigrant and wants her only daughter to become the next Shirley Temple.


St the beginning of the story, this mother is going to the extremes to try and turn her little girl into the next "Shirley Temple" prodigy. After many attempts at different skillsets, her mom settles on making her play piano. shes taking lessons now with a deaf guy and has a recital she has to play; she fails miserabley. The next 20 years she fails at most things and for her 30th birthday her mom gives her her piano. This acts as an apology from the mom to her daughter and all wounds are healed.

Internal Conflict

The mother keeps trying to improve her daughters skills and when she kepps failing, it drives her mad! Eventually she gets so tired that she gives up on her daughter.

External Conflict

The mom and the daughter constantly fight in their relationship. They always complain, refuse to do things and in general disrespect each other.


One theme found in this novel is that the relationships the family members share can be difficult. An example is when Jing -mei completely messed up her routine at the talent show; her mother accused her of disobeyingher. This tells us that Jing-mei feels the pressure that her mother puts on her to be something that she is not. She feels as if she constantly disapointing her mom, which makes their relationship very difficult. As Jing-mei grew up, she started to understand the difficulty she caused, and appreciated her mom more.


Within the story, the piano acts as a musical instrument; but it has more meaning than that. This piano represents Jing-Mei's faliure and hatred of her mother at the beginning of the story. But towards the end it acts as an apology when her mom gives it to her as a present for her 30th birthday.

Kid looks at mirror, What does she see?

When Jing (short for JingMei) looks into the mirror at the beginning of the story, she sees a girl who fails at everything that her mom asks her to do. This has the thematic significance of her giving up; from that point she just didnt care anymore about what her mom asked her to do. This relates to the title because it shpws how her mom and she are two different kinds of people; one is perseverent and the other doesnt want to do any work.

What went wrong in the relationship between mother and daughter?

The mom always wanted her daughter to be the next child prodigy (which shes not), and made her watch videos, read books, take quizzes and take lessons. The daughter on the other hand only wanted to be herself; eventually she stopped trying and it made her mom mad. This kept escalating until they didnt talk for a very, very long time. The extreme personality differences are what caused a loving relationship to turn sour.

How have her earlier experiences shaped her ambitions for her daughter?

Her mom lost everything in china, her daughters her husband and her house. She belived that you could become anything you wanted to in America; so her mom's strain compelled her to try and make something better out of her daughter.