Throughout the story “Two Kinds,” Amy Tan portrays a broken mother-daughter relationship through Jing-Mei’s perspective. Her mother moved to America and dedicated her new life to making a prodigy out of her child. Jing-Mei struggles with the fact that the person her parents want her to be is not who she actually is. Although she knew how much her achievements would mean to her mother, Jing-Mei did everything in her power to not succeed and blamed it all on her mother.
Ever since Jing-Mei was a little child, her mother has been working hard to find her calling. Her mother is a Chinese immigrant, who is highly influenced by Hollywood. At that time, the story was written, Shirley Temple was one of the most famous American film and television actresses. Jing-Mei has the idea that if she becomes perfect, her mother and father will love her. Unfortunately, after many efforts of trying to become a superstar, it still has not worked out. She tries to get her haircut like Shirley Temple, but instead she looks like a “Negro Chinese” (222). This is one of the incidents that causes Jing-Mei to have the notion that she is a failure.
Her mother constantly tests Jing-Mei trying to find something remarkable about her. Unfortunately, she does not perform so well. She is drilled by many different things such as multiplication tables, capitals, and Bible verses. As the tests go on and on, she starts thinking that she is not special so she eventually gives up trying. This causes disappointment in herself which then leads to rage against her mother. Jing-Mei expresses her anger towards her mom when she says, “I won’t be what I’m not” (224). She is now convinced that her mother is trying to change who she is. Jing-Mei then only mocks her mother and does not attempt to learn, but the failed hopes that she will be a prodigy keep on going.
Once they finally give up hope for the tests, her mother is set on one more idea. She wants her daughter…