No two mother and daughter relationships are alike. After reading “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker and “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan I realized that the two stories had the same subject matter: mother and daughter relationships. These two stories show different cultures, generations and parenting methods. Although the two mothers act differently, they are both ultimately motivated by the same desire: to be a good parent. In addition, while researching related articles, I realized that there were two recurring themes of mothers and daughters: respect and diverse ways of parenting.
When I think of what respect means to me, my definition is: listening and being mindful of what someone is saying or doing. The dictionary on Google has respect listed as: “admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements” (Google). I have never associated with respect with admiring someone’s abilities, qualities, yet along their achievements. The two different mothers in the stories view respect differently as well.
In “Two Kinds”, the mother is constantly demanding respect from her daughter. It reminded me of when a friend of mine said, “I’m my own Chinese mother” while she was preparing for finals week. Is it culturally understood that Chinese mothers are strict? At the end of the story, the mother, very upset, demands:
“Only two kinds of daughters…Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!” (Lawn).
June’s mother is displaying her rules for respect. Obviously she does not care to know what June thinks about this, she does not even have a choice in this matter. It is opposite in the terms of Mama and Dee.
In “Everyday Use”, there is a turnaround about gaining respect. Instead of Mama demanding respect from Dee, like the mother being demanding of June, Mama seems to yearn for her daughters respect. Within a few passages Mama narrates a dream of which she and Dee are reunited (Lawn). “She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she things orchids are tacky flowers” (Lawn). This quote displays that Mama wishes that Dee would take Mama as she was, and her pinning the orchid on her dress is a way of validating this. Dee is also well dressed, beautiful and educated. This makes Mama feel less worthy and hopes that her daughter will one day respect her. Susan Farrell points out in an article:
“Dee obviously holds a central place in Mama’s world. The story opens with the line: “I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon” (47). As Houston Baker points out, “The Mood at the story’s beginning is one of ritualistic waiting”, of preparation “for the arrival of a goddess” (715)” (Farrell).
Mama has Dee high on a pedestal. She is even trying to gain respect from her daughter by having her lawn nicely...