Point of View in Amy Tan’s Short Story, Two Kinds
In her short story "Two Kinds," Amy Tan utilizes the daughter's point of view to share a mother's attempts to control her daughter's hopes and dreams, providing a further understanding of how their relationship sours. The daughter has grown into a young woman and is telling the story of her coming of age in a family that had emigrated from China. In particular, she tells that her mother's attempted parental guidance was dominated by foolish hopes and dreams. This double perspective allows both the naivety of a young girl trying to identify herself and the hindsight and judgment of a mature woman.
"Two Kinds" is a powerful example of differing personalities causing struggles between parent and child. In every parent-child relationship, there are occurrences in which the parent places expectations on the child. Some children fall victim to a parent trying too hard or placing expectations too high, or, in the case of "Two Kinds," a parent trying to live her life through that of her child. However, the mother is also a victim in that she succumbs to her own foolish dream that "you could be anything you wanted to be in America." Knowing that her own time has passed, she wants her daughter to succeed by any means necessary, but she never stops to think of what her daughter might want. She strictly adheres to her plan, and her overbearing parenting only leaves the daughter with feelings of disapproval and questions of self-worth. The mother does not realize the controversy that she creates, and she cannot understand that her actions could be wrong. She also does not realize that she is hurting not only her daughter, but also the relationship that should bind the two of them together.
The daughter can only react to her mother's strict and overbearing ways through rebellion and denial; she attempts to refuse her mother's commands and often denies that she wants those things that her mother wants. The daughter is bored with her mother's dreams and lets her pride take over. She often questions her self-worth, and she decides that she respects herself as nothing more than the normal girl that she is and always will be. Her mother is trying to mold her into something that she can never be, she believes, and only by her futile attempts to rebel can she hold on to the respect that she has for herself. The daughter is motivated only to fail so that she may continue on her quest to be normal. Her only motivation for success derives from her own vanity; although she cannot admit it to herself or her mother, she wants the audience to see her as that something that she is not, that same something that her mother hopes she could be.
After her failure to satisfy her mother and herself at the talent show, the relationship between them soured at an accelerated pace, culminating in one final argument. "Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!" the mother shouted....