Two Kinds and The Teachings Behind That

The story “Two Kinds” by Jing Mei Woo represents several meanings to the reader through the piano and the ability and the practice taken to play the piano.  But here, I would like to point out the direct meaning of “Pleading Child” and “Perfectly Contented” were the two halves of the same song.

The direct meaning of this is that they were both the same halves of the same song even though they were placed in the opposite directions to each other in the piano, one in the right hand side and the other in the left hand side.  This gives us the idea that each of them cannot be played individually.  If they were played individually, they will be meaningless and no effectiveness.

However, I suppose that we can interpret this in another way and to see the main point of this story.  We could interpret this in another form that could highlight the mother and the daughter comparing their behaviors that is essential to lead a perfect life. One main difference is that the mother is a hopeful person while the daughter is a hopeless person, which means, she wants everything to happen sooner because she does not want to waste time by waiting for that event.  The next is that the mother was obedient to her mother, whereas Jing Mei is disobedient to her mother.  This depicts the two kinds of daughters.  In both cases, both mother and Jing Mei have to have each other’s characters. Since each of them is having two opposite characters and they don’t coincide with the idea, it won’t bring success. For example, if Jing Mei had the interest, hope and quality of obeying her mother, then could have practiced piano effectively and she would not have been embarrassed during the concert.  Only her mother’s plan cannot bring Mei the success. Her interest and effort take the biggest percentage of her success.  She should have tried that a little bit and she could have given it up only if she failed to pick it up.

Ultimately, this reveals that there should be two different characters in the same person to bring their effort a success like the piano should have both the ends played properly to see the real beauty of the art of piano. Since Mei lacked this quality, she failed to perform well.

Response to “Two Kinds”

How do you feel when your parents compare you with others? If I were you I would feel very indignant because I love to be the way I am. I guess most of you will feel the same as me. That’s what came up in my mind when I read “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan. In this story, Jing-Mei is a normal girl, who has not any natural talent or extraordinary ability. Still her mother keeps on pushing her to become something on which her mother can feel proud of. It was like a competition with her friend’s daughter Waverly Jong, who is a brilliant chess player. Literally, Jing-Mei’s mother never compares her with Waverly, but she wants Jing-Mei to be something like her. The force was for more for a show-off than Jing-Mei’s benefit.  On the contrary, Jing-Mei pretends to be obedient to her mother, but eventually she likes the way she is.

Fortunately, I have never faced things like that. My parents never compared me with other girls, but it does not mean that I am a flawless girl with extraordinary girl. I am an ordinary girl, just like Jing-Mei. When anyone of my cousins or someone from neighborhood achieves something, my parents never suggest me to be like her or him. They are happy with what I have achieved till now. They truly believe in me and let me decide what to do with my life. While it is me who sometime sees others achievement and wonders, “I wish I could do it!”. Then my parents inspire me for that and advise me to listen to my heart. On the other hand, I feel so awkward when anyone from neighborhood or relatives tell their children to be like me as I am not worthy of that. One of my aunts (father’s sister) has strictly told her daughter to follow my steps, who is much more brilliant than me in every aspect.

In my opinion, this tendency of comparison in parents has both negative and positive effects. Sometime the child feels too much pressure to fulfill their parents’ expectation when they are compared with some super talented kids. The child gets lost on the extra efforts and loses his or her own identity. On the other side, the comparison does well to some extents. It sometimes inspires the child to do something and brings out the latent talent. Moreover, every parent expects their child to be a genius, which is not a bad thing. But sometime their over-expectancy makes the child frustrated and indifferent to everything.

Response to ‘Two Kinds’

In the chapter ‘Two Kinds’, the clash between Jing-Mei and her mother exposed the fact that pressurizing someone to do something that he or she did not love could not bring his or her success what was expected. Suyuan, Jing-Mei’s mother’s opinion was that everyone could be a prodigy. Jing-Mei was forced to do various things as her mother’s expectation towards her that she could be a prodigy. Her mother was motivated by watching programs and reading stories about young prodigies and used to tell about these to Jing-Mei to attract her attention towards that view she could be like them if she practiced. Jing-Mei was compared with other young talented girls, especially with Waverly, daughter of one of her mother’s friends who was a ‘Chess-champion’. However, Jing-Mei refused to try to become a prodigy because she was tired of being that, and wanted to be what really she was.

In my life, I also faced same type situation once. After passing the higher secondary examination, my mother expressed her expectation towards me that she wanted me to be a doctor. However, I did not want to be a doctor, I wanted to get admitted in a public university. Despite my wish, I studied for medical admission, but I could not concentrate in my study because it did not come from my mind. I tried to concentrate, but I could not. I know I could not be a good doctor because I had no intention to choose this field for my higher education. My mother tried to convince me by telling the stories of respected doctors, and how they reached in that position. She told me if I kept trying to get admitted in a medical college, then I could be achieved this position in the society like them. I just wanted to tell my mother that it was not a good expectation of her to me because I did not like me to be a doctor. However, my mother’s expectation towards me unintentionally forced me to study for medical admission, but I know I could not get chance because I had no aspiration for that. It just did not strike my mind. Consequently, my suspicion came true. My name was not in the list of selected students for medical college. I could remember how my mother’s expectation towards me just broke down. I saw the change in her face; it was expressed that she was frustrated. I expected her to say something rude, or harsh towards me, but she was just shut down.

When I read this chapter, I found similarity between Jing-Mei and me. We could not fulfill our mother’s expectation towards us. The fact was that Jing-Mei’s story is fictional, but my story was real.

Faith Vs Fate

Do you believe in the fate or the faith? For me, I believe in both faith and fate. Fate is when I believe that something happens to me because it is meant to happen or meant to be destined to happen to me. Faith, on the other hand, is when I believe something happens because I have expected it to happen.  I believe that sometimes we get confused about accepting the things as they are and conceding ourselves to how things are in our life. Often when I start improving myself in any qualities that I lack for a little while and then when things don’t work out I would say, “Well, I guess it wasn’t just meant to be.” This is when I give in myself to whatever “fate” has in store for me. But I approached to improve these qualities with the faith and trust to improve myself.

 Now, if I talk in the context of The Joy Luck Club, Rose Hsu Jordan’s mother had full faith in her religion until the day she loses her son Bing. An-mei, refusing to accept the fate drove with Rose to the beach early in the morning to search for Bing. An-mei offered prayers to god and the watery-blue sapphire ring into the ocean hoping that Bing would be returned, but it was in vain. At the time, Rose thought that her mother inferred that faith could not change fate. Moreover, Rose also realizes that “Fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention”. Because of her inattention that caused Bing to drown, and her inattention to decision making with her husband made the marriage deteriorate and finally resulted in Ted’s request for a divorce. On the other side, An-mei’s hope for the return of Bing and Rose Hsu’s expectation to save the marriage plays the other half of their fate.

In the chapter “Two Kinds” Jing-mei and her mother also have conflicts because of their contrasting ideas of fate. Suyuan is adamant that Jing-mei will discover her inner talent of becoming a prodigy if only she and her daughter work hard like Waverly Jong and her mother does. However, Jing-mei, on the other hand, believes she can’t be forced to do what she doesn’t want to. After all, she is who she is, not a slave of her mother.

My response on “Two Kinds”

In the chapter “Two Kinds” of The Joy Luck Club, Jing-Mei’s mother always believed that her daughter was born a child prodigy. She made a lot of effort to make her daughter more talented than the other children. It’s because she wanted to compare her daughter among the other talented children of her friends. On the other hand, Jing-Mei was confused about her abilities. She wasn’t able to find if she was born talented or not. She had to do those things which she wasn’t interested in because of the force of her mother. Therefore, she learned piano only for her mother. As she didn’t show interest in the piano course, she didn’t even know that the two pieces of music that she had been learning for a long time were from the same song. It was due to the lack of her attention. If she had worked hard, she might not have felt embarrassed in front of the audience. However, it was beyond her interest, so she didn’t care what others would think when she would not be able to perform well in the concert.
When I read that chapter, I began to think about parents who always compare their children with that of the others. They don’t try to know what their children’s hidden qualities are and what their interests lie in. It is obvious that parents would want their children to become more talented than others, but the interests of parents do not coincide with that of their children’s due to the generation gap. Sometimes, it also depends on the attitude of the child, whether he wants to be judged by his parents or not. I have seen some people who dream to fulfill their parents’ wish. These types of people are supported by their parents in every part of their lives. On the other hand, I have also seen some people like Jing-Mei, who are not supported by their parents. For example, one of my friends is very good at playing guitar but very poor in his studies. He wanted to graduate in Music but unfortunately his parents, who think that he will have no future in Music, didn’t support him. As a result, he gave up his studies and now is abandoned by his parents.

In conclusion, it’s always better if there is understanding between the children and the parents. Parents must first think about their children’s interests and capabilities without coercing them into those things which are beyond their interests. In the same way, children should also try their best to make their parents understand their problems.

Is Comparison good or bad?

After reading the story, “Two Kinds” in the Joy Luck Club, I suddenly noticed that one of the reasons for Jing-Mei’s mother to make Jing-Mei be a famous personality was the hidden competition amongst the mothers. Indeed, Jing-Mei’s mother wanted her to be popular because she felt jealous of Lindo, whose daughter was a famous chess player.

                Thinking that America could be a suitable place to exploit opportunities and engross her daughter’s inner ability, Jing-Mei’s mother made several endeavors to fortify Jing-Mei’s talents. However, she failed each time because Jing-Mei was not successful in any of her tests. The more Jing-Mei was coerced into taking the tests, the more she became frustrated. As a result, she made excuses to “escape” from her mother’s tests. Moreover, Waverly and Jing-Mei did not have friendly relations between each other. They always fought and gave curt responses to one another. When they met on the talent show, Jing-Mei addressed Waverly very rudely. This animosity between the daughters might be the result of their mother’s comparison and competition.

                Furthermore, I would like to share my common experience. For me, my father is somehow like Jing-Mei’s mother. In fact, he always used to compare me with my other friends in context of my studies. Whenever I got my exam grades, my father used to ask me about my friends’ results. If I lagged some marks than that of my friends’, he would say, “If your friends can score good marks than why can’t you?” This retort usually encouraged me to work hard and get good marks. However, his repeated comparison with my friends in terms of grades, good manners, and discipline often annoyed me. I just could not stand being compared to anyone else.  Sometimes, I also felt indignant towards my friends because of their better achievement in school.  Until today, my father still asks me about my friends’ results whenever I tell him about mine in AUW.  I think that he has an innate behavior of comparing, and I am getting used to it. Therefore, this habit does not bother me at all.              

 Hence, I think comparison can be both good and bad for people. It may encourage you to surpass your parents’ expectations, while it may also harm your relations with your friends.