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Discussion of Amy Tan's Two Kinds

Amy Tan's story "Two Kinds" reflects the aspirations of a Chinese-American mother for her daughter, as well as aspects of the Chinese-American culture. Tan's mother had lost everything before coming to America-her parents, her home, her husband, and her baby girls, and her daughter Amy was now her only child. Tan describes the relationship she had with her mother and how her mother tried to help her get her piece of the American dream, an effort that failed. Through her account of her life with her mother, however, Tan brought out three major ideas-the reason behind the mother's treatment of her daughter, the aspects of Chinese-American culture woven into the story, and the question of whether the mother was successful in teaching her daughter.

The reason behind the mother's treatment of the daughter was a desire to see her daughter successful. Tan states that "My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America," and her mother's strict and bossy treatment of her was intended to shape her into a successful young woman. The mother saw America as a place where her daughter could become a prodigy with enough work, so she tested her on facts and had her take piano lessons. She was trying to bring out her daughter's natural genius, but Tan was resistant to her efforts and simply stopped trying.

The aspects of Chinese-American culture woven into the story are strict discipline and a strong family ethic that includes closeness. Unlike many American mothers today, Tan's mother spent much time engaged with her, testing her, talking to her, and instructing her on what to do. Her mother was deeply committed to seeing her daughter succeed. Strict discipline was part of this approach, as her mother felt that she needed discipline to work hard enough to succeed.

Was Tan's mother successful in teaching her daughter? Not really. The mother's overbearing ways made the daughter fe


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