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"Two Kinds" by: Amy Tan Literary Analysis

By Edited Jun 16, 2016 1 1

Forgiving your Enemy

“Two Kinds,” is a story that is the perfect illustration of taking Lamott’s advise. This one story entails a killing, domination and lastly a healing. With the following factors, it is what makes this story so loveable and excellent all in one.

In “Two Kinds,” Amy Tan tells the story of a mother and daughter. The mother in this story told her daughter “you can be best anything.” Her belief was you could be anything you wanted to be in America. She truly believed this was so and was determined to make that true through her daughter.

On the other hand Ni kan (her daughter) at first just simply wanted to make her mother happy and believed she would be whatever her mom said she would become or in other words, be “perfect.”

This mother daughter relationship revolved around whatever Ni kan would become, always with her mother’s persistence leading the way. How she would raise her daughter’s hopes up for only failure to follow. It began with her becoming a prodigy of Shirley Temple to her becoming a renowned pianist making her mother proud and proving her one idea of what America had to offer.

The killing in this story began with the mother placing an idea in her daughter’s head of her being a prodigy; all the while her daughter was becoming impatient. As the two spent night after night together with the mother reading incredible stories of other children and testing her daughter the more and more disappointment came from the two of them. The mother’s disappointment came from her daughter failing each time. Her daughter’s disappointment came from the faces her mother gave her of disappointment. In this part of the story she is being killed by her mother who at the time is the domination over her and now a new girl is being born replacing the one that was killed.

This new-born girl has more power and is angrier than the girl she once was. As he mother begins to force her practice the piano for a recital the more and more this new girl shows her face. At first still wanting to make her mother happy, but in the end after she fails, she becomes the domination. This domination is of her finally standing up to her mother in yes a very ugly way, almost out of frustration to only let her see she can only be who she was and not what she wanted her to be. Thus taking away the domination her mother once held over her.

The mother’s domination was pushing her beliefs on her daughter. Making her truly believe she could be good at anything. The mother may have thought she was being a good and loving mother thinking about her daughter’s future and wanting only the best for her, but she could not see that the whole time she was really dominating her daughter’s dreams and future.

Near the end of this story the mother is killed spiritually by her daughter’s words of wishing she were one of the daughters her mother left in China. This not just killed her spiritually, but it killed her one belief she had about America. Although he mother might have been killed spiritually it was the beginning of her healing.

Ni kan did not truly see how much she had been healed until she finally accepted the piano her mother once had to force her to play. It was as though being able to finally sit down and play the piece she once failed to play became a hurdle she longed to cross.

If this healing process was compared to the healing process in the story “killings,” the two are very different, but indeed a healing occurs. In the “killings” it was about revenge to be able to move on. Hurt and pain can cause a person to act outside their character at times. Revenge seems like the best way to handle some situations. Some may say while I’m miserable and in pain, the person that has hurt me is living a carefree happy life with no worries.

Domination occurred in this story in a way of the victim being controlled by their enemy, not so much of the characters act of revenge. When forgiveness is not present in ones heart then that person has control of you. One will always think on the situation, become bitter, think of ways to get them back and even cannot stand the sight of them so avoidance may occur.

So who in the end really won or succeeded as the dominator, killer and then healed in the end? It can go either way to the main character all of these events did evolve in their journey that started out as revenge.  It takes pain for all three to happen, and to make a good story that keeps the reader reading and enticed. In all the pain is the source to all.

While in “two kinds” going back to where the pain all started or playing the piano was how she healed. In both stories it takes different ways for the healings to come.

With all this said, Lamott’s advice is very relevant. If one really thinks about it, almost every story has a killing, domination and a healing. They just do not appear or happen the same way. A killing can occur physically, mentally or spiritually, same for domination or healing. With “Killings,” facing the terrible act and wanting revenge lead to this three step process. In this case “two kinds” reflects this advice all three occur at different time’s places and in more than one character, but in all it is was a story that entailed a cycle that starts with a killing and ends with a healing.

Amy Tan


Oct 15, 2012 1:29pm
You must be a literary expert. I love all your reviews. Thumbs up!
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