Literary devices in "Two Kinds".

Josiah Meigh, 24 August 2012.


Two Kinds is based in San Fransisco, California. In Chinatown.


Jing-Mei Woo is the protagonist and narrator of the story who gets forced to play piano instead of being allowed to be herself.

Waverly Jong is chinatowns littlest chess player. She is a small conflict in the story because it causes Jing-Mei's mother to brag about her, saying she is better than she really is.

Mr. Chong or Old Chong is a deaf pianist who teaches Jing-Mei how to play. However, because of him being deaf he can't hear what her music sounds like and just praises her for playing.

Suyuan Woo is the protagonists mother. She forces her daughter to play piano because she wants her to become the new Shirley Temple and earn money. She moved from china after losing everything, including sevarel children and all of her money, because she heard of America as the land of opportunity where you could do anything you wanted.


Expostion- The narrator goes through her and her mothers backround. She tells of how she moved from china and about her mother losing everything.

Rising action- The rising action is displayed when the narrators mother tries to turn her daughter into a chinese Shirley Temple. She also buys her a piano and makes her learn how to play it from an old deaf pianist called Mr. Chong, and enters her into the church talent show.

Climax- The climax of the story is when the narrator fails at the talent show and makes her mother dissapointed. The narrator thinks her mother will have given up on her playing the piano but then gets in an arguement when she doesn't want to. The arguement results in the daughter bringing back up her dead children and the mother gives up on her.

Resolution- Years later, the narrators mother offers her the piano but she refuses. Her mother dies and she decides to restore the piano for sentimental reasons. She plays the song she played at the talent show "Pleading Child" and also the one on the opposite page "Perfectly Contented" until she realizes they are two parts of the same song.

Internal Conflict

The internal conflict is when the narrator stops trying to learn the piano and just acts bored during lessons. She denies her potential and convinces herself that she is no good.

External conflict

The external conflict is between the narrator and her mother. Her mother wants her to learn how to play the piano so she can earn alot of money but the daughter doesn't want to learn so she gets into alot of arguements.


The theme of the story is to always try your hardest and never give up no matter how bored you are.


At the end of the story the narrators mother offers her the piano. She doesn't take it at first but eventually gets it restored to keep sentimentally. The piano is a symbol of victory for her because she finnaly shooke her mothers obsession with turning her into a prodigy.

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?

When the narrator looks in the mirror she sees her face. She sees she will always be ordinary and will never be a prodigy. This is what eventually leads to her giving up on her mothers dream and starts to show disinterest towards her lessons. The mirror scene relates to the title because she sees herself as two kinds of people. Half the time she imagines herself as a prodigy just waiting to be released and sometimes she sees just an ordinary face and that she will never be special.

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

The relationship of the mother and daughter was hurt because neither of them truly listened to the other. While the mother was constantly testing her daughter she failed to see that she was genuinely unhappy and just thought she was trying to be disobedient. On the other hand, the daughter did not speak her mind until she was at the point of bursting into rage so she couldn't see that her mother only wanted the best for her.

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 lost everything in china and so she wants the daughter to become famous so that she will never have to go through such pain.