Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Arthur Brechbill 08/27/12


The story's main events take place in Chinatown throughout the 1950s and perhaps early 1960s.


 The main character of the story, who is also the protagonist is the author herself Amy Tan (Jing-Mei) The antagonist happens to be her own mother, who is always pushing Jing-Mei to discover a hidden talent. There are a few other characters in the story. Lindo Jong (who she calls Auntie Lindo), is a close friend of her mother. Waverly Jong is Auntie Lindo daughter, who is close to Jing-Mei. Jing-Mei piano instructor, who they call "Old Chong", He plays a small role in the story. Her dad is included in the text, but does not play much of a role.


In "Two Kinds", the exposition is clear in the first couple of pages. The story begins by saying that the family moved to America when she was a baby, in 1994 Her mother is confident in her goals. She wants her daughter to be a child prodigy and famous. In the beginning Jing-Mei seems to accept her mothers goal, Her mother went to far and is the rising action of the story. Jing-Mei writes about all of the ways her mother tries to find her special talents. It begun with Jing-Mei getting a perm so she could be the next Shirley Temple, Her mother forced her to also take piano lessons. In the rising action, there is fight between Jing-Mei and her mother. The climax of the story is a piano recital and the events that unfold the day after. Her mother is proud of her musical talent she even invites Auntie Lindo and Waverly to her first piano recital. Although Jing-Mei slacked on her practicing during the rising action of the story, she actually feels confident doing good at the recital, but does terrible and looses respect from her mother after a fight. During the falling action, Jing-Mei grows up throughout the years. She saw that she never did the best she could at anything. We discover that deep inside, Jing-Mei did have some pride in her piano-when her mother tells her that the piano is hers, and she should take it. In the resolution, we come to the present time and her mother has recently passed. She has the piano tuned, and sits down to play.

Internal Conflict

One of the Internal Conflicts, is the she is gloomy, sad feeling after she realizes that she cannot become the great person her mother wants her to be. Jing-mei thinks to herself, "After seeing my mother disappointed once again, something inside of me began to die. I hated the tests, the raised hopes, and failed expectations."

External Conflict

One of the examples of external conflict in this story occurs when her mother scheduled piano lessons for Jing-mei without her consent. Her mother decides she wants Jing-mei to try her hand at being a pianist so that she can be famed like the little Chinese girl on the Ed Sullivan Show.


"Two Kinds" focuses on the mother/daughter action in the story. Because her mother lived an extremely difficult life in China, she pressures Jing Mei to excel in America where it is much easier for a girl to be successful. The problem is that her mother defines success for her daughter as being exceptional at something, so now Jing Mei must take piano lessons in order to become a child protegee.


Jing Mei's piano was the main symbol of this story. In the end of the story, the fact that she had it tuned and actually sat down to play it shows that she really cared about her mother and the piano. The songs that she plays at the end are also a symbol of the story, itself. She states in the story "playing two songs. The first is titled "Pleading Child", and the second one: "Perfectly Contented". These are songs that she had played when she was little.