GCSE OCR engligh opening worlds- two kinds

notes on the short story two kinds

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Two Kinds by Amy Tan
Opening Worlds No 5
This is a long story covering a time span of over thirty years. The story can be
broken into three sections:
Before Jing Mei is born
The year after training ­ when Jing Mei is nine
Later life ­ when Jing Mei is in her thirties
Task ­ list the main events of each section and underline what you believe to be
the two most important moments in the story.
The characters are interesting in this story as they can be read/perceived in
different ways. For example, Jing Mei's mother can be seen as working tirelessly
and unselfishly to provide opportunities for her daughter. Alternatively, she can
be seen to be someone who bullies her daughter and refuses to listen to her OR
she can be viewed as someone who pushes her daughter to achieve for her own
selfish reasons and not for her daughter's sake. SIMILARLY Jing Mei can be
seen as doing her best to please her mother or as being lazy and ungrateful or
unforgivably rude and cruel in the way that she speaks to her mother.
Task ­ find quotes to back these different views.
At the heart of the story is the CONFLICT between mother and daughter and at
the heart of this there is a mutual inability to see things from the other's point of
view. The mother sees the daughter's reluctance as ungratefulness (remember
that she cleans to provide the money for Jing Mei's training). The daughter sees
the mother's insistence as trying to force her to be someone that she is not.
Note: A sympathetic reading of the text will see both points of view.
The plot has some twists. There is a comic irony in the fact that Mr Chong is the
only one to enjoy Jing Mei's performance in the talent show (him being deaf ­
and her piano teacher ­ when the performance was so poor).
There are further ironies at the end of the story:
Jin Mei's reaction to the gift of the piano
The reason that she takes the Chinese dress home
Her realisation in the final paragraph that her and her mother are `two halves
of the same song'. The timing is sad because her mother is dead at this point.
The title is clearly connected to the central themes of the story and could be
referring to the mother and daughter's different personalities or how they are
caught between two cultures.
It may refer to the two different kinds of daughter - the obedient and the wilful
or two approaches to life (easy and hard). Chinese philosophy stresses the
importance of keeping opposing forces in balance.

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This is the only story in the anthology to use a first person narrator. It is written
in retrospect ­ as if Jing Mei is reflecting back on her youth from her thirties.
This emphasises the sadness of the final realisation ­ as it is too late to change
Perhaps we also feel a degree of sympathy towards the narrator because she
shares her feelings with us (lines 76-89).
Characterisation is supported through dialogue in this story.…read more


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