David A Ruks]
[ENGL&101 S16 3250]
Being Able to Communicate Effectively Can Save Hurt Feelings
In Amy Tan's "Two Kinds," readers discover that trying to force a person to be a prodigy cannot happen for many reasons. Among those reasons the mother puts her wants over the daughters. The mother puts her will over what the daughters wants. The mother miss out on opportunities to encourage her daughter
As readers, our first instance where the mother is not allowing her daughter to be the true focus of why she wants her daughter to be a prodigy is where she has not even asked the daughter what she would like to be when she grows up, she does not ask the daughter what she might like to do for fun. Instead, she decides her daughter should be a prodigy only so the mother can be just like her friend who has a daughter who is a prodigy. ' " Of course you can be prodigy, too," '.... ' "You can be best anything..' (Tan 1117)
Another time the daughter is not the is when her mother is watching old Shirley Temple movies on TV as if they were training movies. Instead of allowing her daughter Jei-ming to be the one interested in the movies, Shirley Temple, tap dancing or singing. The mother has to poke-Jei ming to pay attention to the movie on the TV. "My mother would poke my arm and say, ' " Ni kan" ' "-----You watch. And I would see Shirley tapping her feet, or singing a sailor song,..." (1118).
We later see the mother take again trying the focus away from the daughter is when she decides to change her daughters looks to fit a look that is not her daughters want or idea, but instead in hopes to make her daughter's hair look more like Shirley Temple's. Instead of the mother not saying anything or saying sorry to her daughter. She makes her daughter think she is blaming her for the haircut that was not her idea in the first place, and becomes a mistake. " Instead of getting big fat curls, I emerged with an uneven mass of crinkly black fuzz." ' " You look like Negro Chinese," ' "she lamented, as if I had done this on purpose."
An instance where the mother could have encouraged her daughter but is unable to and does not bring forth a positive outcome is when she tries to make the daughter remember everything she can from a page from the Bible. "One night I had to look at a page from the Bible for three minutes and then report everything I could remember". ' " Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance and . . . that's all I remember, Ma," ' "I said." Instead of encouraging her daughter, or giving her praise for trying. She allows her daughter to see disappointment. " And after seeing my mother's disappointed face once again, something inside of me began to die." (1119)
There is also another time the mother loses an opportunity to encourage her daughter when the mother watches The Ed Sullivan Show, and there is ".... A little Chinese girl, about 9 years old, with a Peter Pan Haircut." The daughter defends the little girl on T.V. that in a way resembles her look. ' "What are you picking on her for?" ' ' " ...She's pretty good. Maybe she's not the best, but she's trying hard." ' Instead the mother tells her daughter ' " Just like you" ' "Not the best. Because you not trying" '...(1120)
When the mother decides yet again what the daughter should do, she decides she must now take piano lessons without seeing how the daughter feels about it, which is not favorable. "When my mother told me this. I felt as though I had been sent to hell." The daughter finally asks her mother "why you don't you like me the way I am? I'm not a genius! I can't play the piano." The mother replies ' "Who asks you to be genius?' ' "she Shouted" ' "Only ask you be your best." ' ''For you sake" "You think I want you to be genius? Hnnh!"(1120) This is after slapping her, and after many times in the past not realizing her daughter is already doing this, and the mother doing exactly what she now says she is not. Even a year after of her daughter practicing the mother still has not heard her daughter, and lies about having heard her. Only after her friend brags about her daughter, does Jing-mei's mother boast about Jing-mei's ability. "Waverly Jong had gained a certain amount of fame as Chinatowns littlest Chinese chess champion" ' "She bring home to many trophy," ' lamented Auntie lindo that Sunday. ' "All day she play chess. All day I have no time do nothing but dust off her winnings." ' Jing-mei's mother replies, ' "Our problem worser than yours, If we ask Jing-mei wash dish, she hear nothing but music. It's like you can't stop this natural talent" ' (1121)
After the climax of the story where the truth comes out about the mother being wrong, and the daughter being wrong. "A few weeks later, old chong and my mother conspired to have me play in a talent show" (1121). The mother still tries to make the daughter take piano lessons. Again because the mother is unable to tell the daughter she loves her, is proud of her, wants to know what her daughter is interested in. ' "You want me to be someone that I'm not." "I'll never be the kind of daughter you want me to be." (1121)
Many years later, the daughter is offered the piano for thirtieth birthday. She sees the offer of the piano as "...a sign of forgiveness, a tremendous burden removed." (1124)
Even after this and all the years her mother is still unable to express what she means to say, and the daughter still is unable to realize what the mother is trying to say. ' "Well I probably can't play anymore" ' ' "You Pick up fast " ' ' '' You could been genius if you want to" ' ' "No I couldn't " ' ' " You just not trying" ' Although they both have still not learned to communicate or understand what each other are saying they both have forgiven each other, and the daughter now knows her mother says what she says without meaning to sound like she does not love her. " She was neither angry nor sad" (1124)
Although the mother and daughter have overcome their past, they still disagree about how the daughter could have found a talent and how it could have been a more enjoyable experience. The daughter has learned her mother was trying to, in her own way, show that she loved her daughter, believed in her daughter and wanted to support her daughter, she just was unable to communicate it in a way for her to have possibly understood as a child.
At the beginning before trying to change the daughter, before disappointment was allowed to appear, too many forced tests, raised hopes had broken the daughter and her enjoyment. This has now begun to make her regret her mother and her mother trying to force her to be a prodigy the daughter was enjoying the idea of possibly becoming a prodigy. " In fact, in the beginning I was just as excited as my mother" This now leads the daughter to stop even trying anymore, to stop trying to be her best, and now instead tries everything not to be her best. "So now on nights when my mother presented her tests, I performed listlessly, my head propped on one arm. I pretended to be bored. And I was"
Tan, Amy. "Two Kinds." Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William
Burto, and William E.Ca