Literary Devices in "Two Kinds"

Margaret Martin, August 28, 2012


This short story is set in San Fransico, California, Chinatown. Not in present day.


The mother wants Jing-Mei to be a prodigy. Jing-Mei isn't good at anything her mother wants her to do. The effort stops until her mother sees a little Chinese girl playing the piano on TV. SHe forces Jing-Mei to practice every day from 4-6 with their down stairs neighbor. Then she's forced to compete in a talent show, but she's really bad at the pino. When she does awfully her mother doesn't say much, but then on Monday her mother tells her to start lessons, they get in a huge fight that they never talk about. Then Jing-Mei never has to play again.

Internal Conflict

Jing-Mei is struggling with not wanting to disapoint her mother and wanting to be herself

External Conflict

Jing-Mei and her mother fight all the time. They fight about her not trying hard enough to be a prodigy, which makes both of them get angry, which causes more fights.


Jing-Mei and her mother are the main characters. Her mother is from China, she wants her daughter to be a prodigy. Jing-Mei wants to be a regular little girl but her mom doesn't want her to. The mother is adiment about her being a prodigy, despite her attempts of trying to make her be.


In "Two Kinds" is that even though people fight, they could be people that you really need in your life. Jing-Mei would be so lost without her mother


The mother is a symbol of how you need someone to push you, but not as hard as the mother pushed Jing-Mei. Sometimes pushing people can be a good thing unless you do it too much. Everyone needs a push now and then.

Thematic Significance

When Jing-Mei looks in the mirror at first she doesn't see a prodigy, she doesn't see someone that could ever be a prodig. She sees a girl who has failed her mother. After crying and having a fit about everything, she looks in the mirror again. This time she does see a prodigy, somone who can do what ever they want. The name "Two Kinds' means there are two different kinds of people in the world.

Two Strong Willed People

When two strong willed or 'hard headed' people get together something always goes wrong. The mother wants her daughter to be a prodigy and to be perfect at everything she tries. While the daughter just wants to be a normal little girl, despite her mothers attempts. What went wrong was they both wanted different things, and never could agree.

Mothers Earlier Life

The mother moved to the US from China. We don't know exactly what happened in her life, but we know it wasn't easy. The daughter brings up the children she lost when she lived in China. She moved to America to live the American dream,  and wants her daughter to live it as well, she believes anything is possible.