Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Aaron Craft 24 Augest 2012


This story of Jing-mei and her mother takes place in San Francisco, in Chinatown; one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia


Jing-mei, an American born child, who is pushed too hard by her mother, a Chinese immigrant, to become a prodigy, in what she thinks of as the land of opportunity.
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Jing-mei's mother from the beginning, wants her to be an American born prodigy. The mother attempts at first to model Jing-mei off of many famous American prodigies she sees on television, magazines, and anything else she can find. Before long, Jing-mei's mother set her on the track to be a great pianist, after seeing a very young Chinese girl on TV, playing a delightful melody. She even hires a private tutor for her, and practices two hours a day, but Jing-mei quickly learn that he is deaf and his eyes are too slow to keep up with her missing the right keys. At first she takes this as a blessing, and slacks off, but when her mother forces Jing-mei to play in the talent show, she realizes all that slacking off was for the worst. She preformed awful, and a weak clap slowly came up after her performance, along with her mother's exrteme disappointment. After the show, and a fight between Jing-mei and her mother, the mother gives up on her. Years later, on Jing-mei's 30th birthday, the mother offers their old piano back to her, as "a sign of forgiveness, and a tremendous burden is removed", and their tension is resolved.
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Internal Conflict

Jing-mei has constant conflict within herself, as she battles between her prodigy side, and her normal plain side. She fights herself over what her mother made her do, to try or not to. She doesnt want her mother to change her, to make her something shes not. The mother, who wants desperately for her daughter to be a star in this land of opportunity, in constantly having trouble within herself, when she sees her daughter fail, or doesnt try. It is a constant battle between each other, that causes for both of their internal troubles and woes.
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External Conflict

The mother and daughter are constantly battling throughout this story, because they each want something different. The mother, who wants her daughter to be an American born prodigy and the daughter who doesnt want her mother to change her. Her mother yells, curses in chinease, and is constantly openly disappointed in her, and her daughter, who fihgts back with resistnace and yelling as well. Each of them openly show to each other, throughout the story, that they arn't happy with each others actions toward them.
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Jing-mei, an American born girl, just wants to be herself, to not let anyone change her. Her mother just wants the best American life for her, after she has lost everything back in China. All she wants is for her to be a prodigy, like all the people she sees in magazines and on TV. The constant fighting and turmoil in their relationship about what Jing-mei will eventually become supports the theme of taking pride in who you are.
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The piano, the instrument Jing-mei's mother forced her to play, that represented their struggles and conflict throughout the story. It was their source of disruption between them, what drove them apart. Even after their great fight, when her mother finally stopped forcing Jing-mei to play, when the piano was closed "shutting out the dust, my misery, and her dreams" it sat there for years and years before her mother finally offered it back to her on her 30th birthday. It was as a sign of forgiveness, of peace between them. "It made me feel proud, as if it were a shiny trophy that I had won back".
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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?

The daughter sees herself in the mirror, crying, and at first sees nothing but an ordinary face, and she knows that she will never be anything special. "Such a sad, ugly girl!" and she screamed out. But, then she saw a different side of her, the prodigy side. She had never seen this side of her before. She saw herself as angry, and powerful.She suddenly had thoughts filled with won'ts, that she wouldnt let her mother change her. This starts the beginning of her downturn, her non caring attitude, not trying. It is like the title in that Jing-mei is really, two kinds of people.
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Two strong-willed characters are pitted against each other in this story. What went wrong in the relationship between mother and daughter?

What went wrong was just that, the daughter and mother being both strong-willed towards different ideas. The mother, who wants desperately her daughter to become an American born prodigy, and the daughter, who does not want to be changed. The mother truly does want her daughter to be great and live the American dream, but pushes her to hard to have her achieve that goal. This starts the constant battle between the two, eventually splitting them apart, until finally years later on the daughter's 30th birthday that they come to peace with one another.
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Read carefully the parts dealing with the mother’s earlier life in China. How have her earlier experiences shaped her ambitions for her daughter?

Jing-mei's mother certainly did not come from an easy life back in China. She had come to San Francisco in 1949 after losing everything in China; her mother and father, her home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls. After losing so much it is plainly seen why Jing-mei's mother is so desperate for her daughter to become a prodigy. She doesn't want for her daughter what she had, she wants her to live lavish, to live the American dream. It can also be said that perhaps the mother wants her daughter to succeed so badly because it is all that she has left, and she wants to make someone great to carry on their name.
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