Amy Tan's Two Kinds And Julius Lester's Spear

1357 words - 5 pages

Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” and Julius Lester’s “Spear” are two short stories that manifest themes of pressure amongst the main character and internal conflicts concerning their identity. Most people feel pressure some point in their life, especially if a lot is required of them. Some stand strong and don’t let the pressure weigh them down. On the other hand, there are those that cave in and let others define their identity for them. There are many social forces that exert influences on people. The main character in “Two Kinds”, Jing-Mei, fit’s the description of the strong group that rebels against those that try to rectify her identity, mainly her mother. The simple fact of being observed by others pressures people. Being in a group can cause people to feel constrained and act differently depending on the cues from the surrounding environment. Yet, things like compliance, conformity, and obedience influence people’s behaviors as well. Spear, the main character in Julius Lester’s short story, relates to the group that gives into pressure and lets outside forces illustrate his selfhood. He is seen as a person who tires to please others, rather than standing up for what he believes in. Through the story, his humility reconstructs into defiance, similar to Jing-Mei.
Both of the main characters in the story are dealing with internal conflicts of identity that has been bestowed upon them from other parties. They are impelled to comply with the normality and custom of their surroundings in addition to living up to certain expectations. Spear and Jing-Mei, the main character’s of these stories, are different in the sense of how they dealt with their conflicts and their individual reactions, but simultaneously they are predominately similar because both conflicts deal with the influence of pressure on their personal identity. Their main expectancies come from people whom they have close relations with, for instance; Jing-Mei‘s mother had unrealistic expectations from her and Spear‘s community including his peers, his mother and his father‘s supporters presumed him to follow his father‘s foot steps. Other pressures came from society, which includes the media, social statuses, roles and social networks. A large social group that shares the same geographical territory is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Society, in general, addresses that an individual has rather limited power or capacity to make an informed, unsuppressed decision. We all follow norms and morals to live a certain life style that society has set for us. For example; traditionally, girls wear pink and play with dolls, while boys wear blue and play with cars/trucks.
In Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds”, Jing-Mei describes her childhood, which was full of pain and resentment linked to having never become the prodigy that her mother desired her to be. Her mother was certain that her daughter can become a phenomenon if she just tried putting some effort into it....

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