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A Conflict Between Mother and Daughter in Amy Tan’s Two Kinds

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Very often children argue and demand about what they want to be when they grow up; while parents require them to be what they want them to be. The short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan shows the life of a Chinese girl who is at her adolescence and the influence of her cultural mom on her growing up. After losing her family, kids and everything she had in China, the mother tries to recapture them through her daughter. As America is a place with endless opportunities available for anyone who pursue them, Ni Kan’s mother wants her daughter’s life to be full of dreams and hopes that she did not have. In the story the author develops the conflict between a mother and her daughter to show that some mother’s and daughter’s conflict with one another because they have very different ideas about culture, hard work and being a prodigy.

There is a huge cultural diversity around the world and people have their own cultures which are very special to them. With the time, Ni Kan grew up and her mother started to feel some differences in her daughter. Ni Kan’s mother have experienced the Chinese culture when she was young, so as an immigrant she wanted her daughter also to be like the other kids from China. She had high expectations on her daughter in achieving the American dream and did not even care how they would affect her. Parents usually want their children to be what they want, but that’s not the right thing, they should let their children take their own decisions when they grow up. At first Ni Kan’s mother wanted her to be like “Shirley Temple”. She used to watch Shirley’s old movies on TV and as every time she sees her she used to poke on Ni Kan and say “Ni Kan — you watch”. After getting this whole idea about Shirley Temple, Ni Kan’s mother then wanted to give the same exact haircut as Shirley. Ultimately, the person who gave her the haircut was a student who was on training and she “emerged with uneven mass of crinkly black fuzz”. “You look like Negro Chinese”, said Ni Kan’s mother like if she had purposely done it to herself. At first Ni Kan listened to her mother, but when her mother keeps on posting foolish expectations she started hating her mother. Finally, Ni Kan thought to herself “I didn’t have to what my mother said anymore. I wasn’t her slave. This wasn’t China”, and she started to become a stubborn kid. Their conflict became aggressive at the end and mother said to Ni Kan that “only one kind of daughter can live in this house, obedient daughter”, after that Ni Kan shouted at mother saying that she wished she wasn’t her daughter. Through the above quotes and descriptions, we can be clear that different ideas about culture among mother and daughter became one reason for their conflicts. In addition to cultural issues, mother wanting Ni Kan to do hard work and she gets tired of is another point where conflicts start between mother and daughter.

In order to make her child a genius kid like the kids she saw on TV, Ni Kan’s mother started testing her by giving hard work. Ni Kan’s mother used to watch TV shows and read many magazines, and then she wanted her daughter to memorize names of the capitals from different countries after seeing a nine-year-old kid with extraordinary talents. One day, while reading a magazine mother asked Ni Kan, “What’s the capital of Finland? When mother asked the above question from Ni Kan, the only thing she knew was the capital city of California, because “Sacramento” was the name of the road they lived before. Mother kept challenging her with many different tests which were so hard for the kids at her age, and the tests got much harder and harder, for instance; she asked her to find “the queen of hearts in a deck of cards” and told her to predict, “the daily temperatures in Los Angeles, New York, and London”. One-night Ni Kan’s mother wanted her to read a page from the Bible for three minutes and she had to “report everything” she could remember. When Ni Kan failed to answer mother gets frustrated. Little by little Ni Kan started hating her mother and the tests, and she started to lose her hopes that she thought she will be the same ordinary kid forever. One night before going to bed Ni Kan looked into the mirror at the bathroom and she said, “I saw only my face staring back—and that it would always be this ordinary face”. As she was fed up with the hard tests; Ni Kan tried different tactics to make her mother give up on her. “I played a game with myself”, said Ni Kan. She counted bellows to show her dislike. At last mothers “was beginning to give up hope”. And finally, she thrived that mother gave up trying after feeling that her effort is useless. By reading the above examples we can come into a conclusion that the hard work given by mother stressed out her daughter and that became another reason for the conflicts. Besides, Ni Kan’s mother wanting her to be a child prodigy is another fact that head starts the conflicts between mother and daughter.

From the beginning of the story the narrator talks about her mother forcing her to be a child prodigy, but after her disappointing stuff mother starts to give up on her and stops talking about her daughter being a prodigy. “Two or three months had gone by without any mention of my being a prodigy again”. At that moment she was happy because she didn’t have any pressure on her. But again after watching TV shows and seeing a little girl playing the piano like a professional, Ni Kan’s mother starts telling her to play the piano like her. “Ni Kan”, “Look here”, said Ni Kan’ mother, after getting “fascinated by the music”. What she saw was a little Chinese girl playing piano and mother was really impressed by her talent. Then after Ni Kan’s mother signed her up for a talent show organized by the church and she invited all her neighbors from “The Joy Luck Club” to watch Ni Kan perform on stage. Most importantly, “auntie Lindo and uncle Tin”, and their kids “Waverly and her two older brothers had also come”. Waverly was that talented kid from her neighborhood whom she played with in her childhood. Without any fear Ni Kan stepped on stage and performed, but she was not so good at playing piano, because her tutor Mr. Chong was very old that he couldn’t hear or see well, and he didn’t even train her properly to compete at a talent show. “I heard a little boy whisper loudly to his mother “That was Awful,” And the mother whispered back, “Well, she certainly tried”. At last she had to face people’s sulky expressions while playing and she felt sad about herself. Not only the outsiders, but rather her father’s negative feedback, and her mother’s blank face made her feel bad. The above quotes and explanations about Ni Kan’s mother pushing her to be famous shows how conflicts arose between mother and daughter.

In conclusion, the above quotes and explanations shows and prove that cultural differences, hard working in life and Ni Kan’s mother wanting her to be a prodigy became the root causes for the conflicts between mother and daughter. This story gives a good message for children and also the parents to have better understanding among each other. I would say that parents should be a strength to their children by giving advices to select their career and they should not force their children to do what they want them to be. Moreover, children should listen to their parents, because parents always try to select best things for our own good.

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A Conflict Between Mother And Daughter In Amy Tan’s Two Kinds. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 26, 2021, from
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