Literacy Devices in "Two Kinds"

Jordan Ball and Meghan Copenhaver


The story takes place in San Fransico's China Town. Which is one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia. It is composed of Asian immigrants and their cultural restaurants, shops. and businesses.
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This photo is an example of what the setting the story would be like.


The main character is Ni kan, a young girl whose mother had high hopes for her. Her mother had came to the untied states in 1969 and believed that the untied states was the place for oppertunity. Other characters that come into place in the story include Ni kan's father, and other family including her aunt and cousin and a old deaf piano teacher named Mr Chong.
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Above is an example of Ni kans family.


The exposition in the story is when the mother tried to get Ni kan to become the next chinese Shirley Temple. She starts taking dance lessons and gets a new hair cut. The rising action is when the mother decided instead Ni kan was going to learn piano because she saw on television a young chinese girl becoming famous for playing the piano. She begins to take piano lessons and her parents buy her a second hand used piano. Her piano teacher ends up being death, so she slacks off because he can not hear if she plays well or not. The climax is when the talent show comes and because Ni kan does not practice she humilates herself and all her family. The resolution occurs in the very end when she comes back to the piano after her mother has died and begins to play again.
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Goes with part of the exposition.


The theme of the story is understanding and forgiveness. Throughout the story the mother continually tries to get her daughter to become famous and well known by others. She wanted more for her daughter than she had as a child. Ni kan resists everything her mother tries to get her to do because she thinks its easier not to try. Eventually the mother gives up and stops pushing her daughter. She tells her daughter that even though shes not going to push her anymore she still believes in her.
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What the mother did for her daughter, even though she did not live out her dreams.

Internal Conflict

Ni kan faces conflict within herself because she believes there is no possibility of becoming a prodigy like her mother wants. She reminds herself that is what her mother wants and continues to tell herself that her mother is trying to change her and that she just needs to be herself. She begins to intentionally fool around and pay no attention to the lessons. As the years go on she becomes more and more disrespectful towards her mother, and takes advantage of her piano teacher and gives up all hope of ever becoming a prodigy.
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She does not know who to listen to, herself or her mom.

External Conflict

Through out Ni kans' life she fights her mother on everything she wants for Ni kan. At first she tries and puts forth an effort to please her mother but after a mishap at a talent show she gives up. When her mother keeps pushing her she rebels.
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Represents the mother and daughter being mad at each other.


The main evidence of symbolism in the story is the piano. After Ni kan stopped playing the paino it sat untouched just like the mothers hopes for her daughter. When the daughter moved out her mother told her the piano was still hers and that she still believed in her. Even though Ni kan left the piano behind, she felt proud her mother felt the way she did. When Ni kan came back in the end of the story to help pack her mothers things, she started playing the piano again. This showed that she was going to try to listen to her mothers wishes her now that she was gone.
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The symbolism item.

In the first part of the story there is a scene in which the daughter sees herself in the mirror. what thematic significance could this scene have? How does it relate to the title?

Ni Kan looks in the mirror one day after a futile attempt in becoming a prodigy and through her tears, she sees a determined, and powerful girl. She puts herself on the defense and decides that she isnt taking orders from her mother anymore. This scene depicts how Ni Kan learning who she really is but intertwined with immaturity. It really relates to the title by showing the two different Ni Kans. One, a childish young girl doing everything to she despised for her mothers dreams and the other who sees who she really is and who she wants to become. Herself. 
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Making the decison of who you want to become.

Two strong-willed characters are pitted against each other in this story. What went wrong in the relationship between mother and daughter?

With Ni kan and her mother both being equaly stubborn and strong-willed, it causes them to butt heads and constently be engaged in arguements and dissagreements on the path of life Ni Kan was leading.
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Shows the mother and daughter budding heads.

Read carefully the parts dealing with the mother's earlier life in China. How have her earlier experiences shaped her ambitions for her daughter?

The mother grew up in China and moved to San Francisco in 1949 after loosing everything. She lost her mother and father, her family home, her husband, and two twin daughters. When she moved to America she belived you could be anything you wanted. You could be rich and famous and never have to worry. Her mother had high ambitions for her daughter because she wanted more for her than she had when she was younger.
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A picture showing how the mother wanted her daughter to be wealthy.