Two Kinds is a story about mother-daughter relationship Suyuan and Jing-mei. Suyuan believed that America is where her dreams will be fulfilled. She thought that her daughter, Jing-mei, would be the one to realize them. Jing-mei, on the other hand, was a confused child at first. She was led to believe that she can be someone. At first, she followed her mother, but when she felt that her mother was already forcing her and stealing her youth, she told herself that it was the end. The story is a clash between two individuals from two different generations and beliefs (Suyuan who basically grew up in China; and Jing-mei who was born and raised in United States).
The theme of the story has so much to do with Amy Tan's own experience particularly her relationship with her mother. It tells the struggles of mother and daughter to understand each other. Though the incidents in the story never really occurred in her life, they were very close to reality. And she said in her interview that it was the closest thing of describing her life. Also, we see not only the cultural differences but the immigrants' need to prove that they certainly have a place in the United States and that they were as talented or as more talented than Americans.
I. Literary Approach
Biographical and Marxist/Sociological Approaches are the most appropriate tools to better understand the story. As aforementioned, Amy Tan's life is very similar with that of Jing-mei's. Tan was born in Oakland, California to parents who immigrated to the United States from China. Thus, this made Tan's growing up stage difficult especially with the relationship with her mom. Her story can be best analyzed through
her life that basically leads you to the biographical approach which allows one to better understand elements within a work, as well as to relate works to the author's intention and audience. Tan's life can serve as a lens that can magnify (clarify) the emotions/feelings embedded in the story.
Another approach which is deemed appropriate to the story is the Marxism. It is concerned with labor practices, class theories, and economics, especially as concerned with the struggles of the poor and oppressed. It examines literature in its cultural and political context; it explores the relation between the artist/character and the society. Jing-mei's mother, a Chinese immigrant, feels that she has to prove something to the society. There is a need to elevate one's economic and social status. Also, the mother believed that you could be anything you wanted to be in America. The domestic dispute, on the other hand, was caused by the cultural differences. It focused on a mother from China and her American-born daughter. In Chinese culture, children are expected to be obedient.