Literary Devices Found in Two Kinds

Leasia Berger 8/24/12


This short story took place in Calfornia, San Fransico Chinatown.


The main character(s) in this story include Jing-mei which was born in America, & her mother who was an immigrant from China. Other characters: Old Chong, Waverly, & Auntie Lindo.


Exposition: Jing-Mei's mother believed you could do anything in America if you put your mind to it. Her mother tried to turn her into a prodigy. She wanted her daughter to become someone in life. She pushed Jing-Mei to the limit though.

Rising Action: First, her mother cut her hair & curled it the way Shirly Temple had it in her tv show. It came out very bad, but Jing-Mei liked it. She wanted her daughter to become a tv star like Shirly, but that didnt work out very well. The next thing her mother made her do was become a pianist. Her mother saw a girl around Jing-Mei's age playing the piano like a pro. So, she took piano lessons with her deaf neighbor, but that didnt work out very well because he couldn't hear her. The talent show was a fail because she messed up the whole song. After the talent show, Jing-Mei didnt want to play piano anymore, but her mom insist that she'd do it.

Climax: Jing-Mei was so tired of her mother trying to run her life, & treat her like a slave, so she just exploded on her mother. She was like "You want me to be someone that I'm not! I'll never be the kind of child you want me to be!" & then she was like "I wish I'd never been born! I wish I were dead like them!" (Them as in the children her mother didnt have.)

Resolution: After Jing-Mei said that, her mother was devastated. She stopped forcing her daughter to do things she didnt want to do. The piano lessons stopped, and she never played the piano again. When Jing-Mei was in her thirtys, her mother decided to give her the piano for it was her trophy for at least trying.

Internal Conflict

The internal conflict in this story was Jing-Mei's sadness she would get when her mother was dissapointed in her. She never told her mother how she felt when she would fail at what her mother would tell her to do.

External Conflict

Jing-Mei kept asking her mother why she didnt accept her for her. They would always have arguments like that. There were times when she wouldnt agree with what her mother would make her do so she would tell her. For example: after the talent show, Jing-Mei didnt want to play the piano, but her mom forced her. Then, she showed her mom she really meant that she didnt want to play by saying hurtful things to her.


One theme for "Two Kinds" is that you can't change someone just because you want them to change. They have to be able to change themselves on their own. Even though Jing-Mei's mother kept trying to push her to be better, & they always argued about it, they still loved each other even though they didnt always get along.  


Symbolism found in "Two Kinds" could be the piano that Jing-Mei would practice on. This represents how she at least tried to do it even though she didnt exceed at it. Its her trophy for trying. The two songs she practiced all of the time on the piano "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented" describes her relationship with her mother. She always pleaded to her mother to stop making her do stuff she didnt want to do.

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?

In the first part of the story, when Jing-Mei sees herself in the mirror, she sees a dissapointment. She's not happy with the way she looks, just plain & ordinary. The theme of this scene is shes trying so hard and feels like she is getting no where. She feels that she'll never change. This relates to the title of the story because she shes nothingness in the mirror, but her mother sees a prodigy.

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

There are many things that went wrong in this mother daughter relationship. Her mother made her feel like she wasn't good enough, and Jing-Mei wasn't telling her mother how she felt when her mother would treat her that way, there was no communication. The way they handled their conflicts were bad because they would just yell at each other, say hurtful things to each other, & just wouldn't listen to each other.

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's life experience shaped her ambitions for her daughter because she was an immigrant from China, and so she can't really do much in America, but her American daughter can because she is legal. She wants her daughter to explore everything that she couldn't do because of where she was born.