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The Mother In I Stand Here Ironing By Tillie Olsen

1912 words - 8 pages

The most heartbreaking way to destroy a precious relationship between mothers and daughters is when each party says something insensitive and callous, as described in Amy Tan’s story Two Kinds, “There are 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!’” to which the daughter, Jing Mei, responds, “Then I wish I’d never been born! I wish I were dead! Like them” (294-295). Although the mother’s words are unkind, Jing Mei ultimately crosses the line, thus creating a fracture in their relationship that she believes will never be mended. In Jing Mei’s child perception, she believes that because her mother stops pushing her to play piano after this, she really wishes her two babies were here instead of Jing Mei. Jing Mei cannot begin to understand what an ideal mother is, because of the complexity of humans. Is a perfect mother someone who is overworked and thus absent or someone overbearing and a perfectionist or easily persuaded and thus unfair? In the stories: Two Kinds by Amy Tan, I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen, and Everyday Use by Alice Walker, the notion of reconciliation between mothers and daughters is explored. Forgiveness made through both daughters and mothers being able to understand and accept the reasoning behind a mother’s actions, which, as young girls, the daughters unfortunately misunderstood.
In the story Two Kinds by Amy Tan, Jing Mei’s mother’s obsession with making Jing Mei a prodigy is the cause of destruction in their relationship but, once Jing Mei begins to understand her mother’s reasoning, the enabler for their reconciliation. For instance, Jing Mei struggles with trying to play the role of the perfect daughter while trying to be true to her self, so when her mother pushing her to playing the piano, Jing Mei asks, “Why don’t you like me the way I am? I’m not a genius! I can’t play the piano,” and her mother assures, “Who ask you be genius? Only ask you be your best. For your sake” (291). Amy Tan effectively shows through her character, Jing Mei, a daughter who hates her mother who makes her feel she is inadequate. Jing Mei believes her mother is trying to change her and make her something she is not and hates her because she does not understand the reasoning behind her mother’s actions. In addition, Jing Mei is “so determined not to try, not to be anybody different,” that she learned to play the piano horribly because she “was determined to put a stop to her [mother’s] foolish pride,” however she does not get the reaction she wanted: “But my mother’s expression was what devastated me: a quiet, blank look that said she had lost everything…. I had been waiting for her to start shouting, so I could shout back and cry and blame her for all my misery” (292-294). To Jing Mei’s child perspective, her mother seems overbearing, a perfectionist, and like she is trying to vicariously live the American Dream through her....

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