Pretentious Mothers In Williams’ The Glass Menagerie And Amy Tans’ Two Kinds

1421 words - 6 pages

In the play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and the short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan, a theme of embattled control is established through the association with their children. William’s long-winded Amanda is an overpowering, delusional Southern belle mother. Dead set on finding her slightly handicapped daughter Laura a suitable husband, and dictating how her creative, yet bored, son Tom should conduct himself in life. Amanda, through her nagging and domineering instructions over everything each of her children do, from how they eat, to how they should live out their lives, pushes them into mental seclusion. The subsequent overbearing behavior by Amanda in due course drives Tom away leaving Laura in complete solitude with her mother. In a likewise manner, Tan depicts her character Suyuan as a very ambitious overconfident Chinese mother with visions of grandeur for her daughter Jing-Mei. Suyuan after being influenced by a television show decides that Jing-Mei is to become a child prodigy. Through strict educational instructions, she drives Jing-Mei to a point of contentious revolt. The consequences of Suyuan’s authoritarian treatment to make Jing-Mei a star result in an outburst, after a talent show, causing a deep rift of silence between the two that lasts for twenty years. The parental domineering nature of Amanda in The Glass Menagerie and Suyuan in “Two Kinds” ultimately fail to force any lasting influential direction on their children, compelling them to follow entirely contradictory paths than the ones preferred by their mothers, forcing their children into rebellion.
Nonetheless both mothers wield strong authority over their children, and the motives behind their dictatorial control are directly related to their dissimilar cultural upbringings. In fact, Amanda has the distinct quintessence of a “middle-aged Southern belle” from “the Mississippi delta” (Falk) (Williams 1633). It is this upbringing that arms Amanda with stories of past events, and quips she uses on her children to expand on this subtle yet persuasive manipulation. Using this talent, she explains how she conducted herself around gentlemen callers “one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain” to her daughter Laura, elucidating “girls in those days knew how to talk,” (1632, 1633). When Amanda conversed with Tom she would always spat out quips like, “don’t push with your fingers,” or “Eat food leisurely, son, and really enjoy it” (1632). Though compared to Suyuan, a restrained overconfident ambitious “Chinese Immigrant” who came to America “in 1949 after losing everything in China” (Hoyte) (Tan 694). Suyuan having survived the untimely death of “her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls,” in China, she “knew there were so many ways for things to get better,” (694). This drove Suyuan with moral purpose to inflict strict psychological and physical control over her daughter, wanting only the best for her, convinced that “you could be anything you...

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