Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Ariel Beecham and Jacob Suda 24 August 2012

Setting

The short story, Two Kinds takes place in Chinatown of San Francisco around the 1950s and early 1960s.
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Characters

The characters are JIng-Mei, Father, Mr. Chong, Mother, Lady Chong, Auntie Lindo, and Waverly.
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Plot

Jing-Mei is a teenage girl living in Chinatown of San Francisco, California. Mother is always pushing her to be something she is not, and she wants her to be a prodigy. At first she goes along with it, then she slowly begins disagreeing. Mother does not give up hope and eventually introduces the piano to Jing-Mei. For a year, she practices with Mr. Chong, a deaf piano teacher. Then, she plays a song at the talent show very poorly. Her mother is disappointed with Jing-Mei. After the talent show Jing-Mei considered a failure, she happily thought her Mother had quit nagging her to be a prodigy. Only days after that thought, Mother suddenly began yelling at her to practice playing the piano and she dragged Jing-Mei to the piano. At this point, Jing-Mei breaks and rebels against Mother. Jing-Mei deeply and emotionally hurts Mother. This is when Mother finally quits pushing her to be something she is not. Many years later, Mother offers the piano back to Jing-Mei. To her this is a sign of forgiveness, although she denied at first. From that time until Mother finally passed away, she felt proud every time she saw the piano in the living room window, and finally decided to take it and begin practicing again.
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Internal Conflict

An example of internal conflict is when Jing-Mei was deciding whether or not she wanted to be a prodigy. At first she was very enthusiastic and could imagine herself on TV. After a while she realized it was better to just be herself and not something her mother was pushing her to be. She ended up not being the famous pianist or anything really that her mother wanted her to be.
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External Conflict

An example of external conflict is when Jing-Mei was fighting with her mother over the piano. They were fighting over how she would not strive to be the famous pianist her mother thought she could be. On the other hand she knew it was better to be herself and not listen to what her mother wanted her to be. She was not interested in playing the piano like her mother wanted her to be.
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Theme

The theme of "Two Kinds" is to always listen to both sides of the story. Mother wanted Jing-Mei to see that their are to kinds of people: obedient ones and rebels (hence the title "Two Kinds"). At first Jing-Mei was the rebellious kind but it took until the end of the story to see both kinds of people she could be and see what her mother really saw in her.
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Symbolism

There are a could of examples of symbolism in Two Kinds. One major one is at the end of the story, the piano resembled forgiveness by her parents. The sheet music that she found when she was playing the piano represented each half of her life, "Pleading Child" was first half when she was begging her mother to let her be herself. The secord part of the song was "Perfectly Contented" represented the other part of her life when she was happy, and satisfied with her self.
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Jing-Mei in the Mirror

Jing-Mei looks in the mirror in the bathroom and thought to herself she would always be ordinary. She thought she was sad, ugly, and wished she was different. When she looked in the mirror she acted like a crazed animal and tried to scratch out the face in the mirror.
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The Relationship Between Jing-Mei and Mother

The relationship between Jing-Mei and Mother did not work because the two of them did not communicate well. Also, both of them had different ideas about what they wanted Jing-Mei to be. If they communicated more maybe the would of come together and found something that Jing-Mei would find enjoyable. Both sides would of won and they would of had a better relationship.
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Mother's History

Before Jing-Mei was born, Mother lost children before they were born. She was very sad and hoped that Jing-Mei would be the best she could be and become famous. It seemed as though she wanted the best for her daughter, but it turned out she was being kind of selfish. In the end, I think she was sort of sad she had lost some children early on, and she wanted Jing-Mei to make up for it and be all of the lost ones combined into one awesome child.
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