This story’s main events take place in Chinatown throughout the 1950s and perhaps early 1960s. The main character of the story, who is also the protagonist, is the author herself: Amy Tan. The antagonist happens to be her own mother, who is always pushing Amy to discover some hidden talent and be someone she is not. There are a few other minor characters in the story. There is Lindo Jong (who she calls Auntie Lindo), who is a close friend of Amy’s mother. Waverly Jong is Auntie Lindo’s daughter, who is close to Amy’s age. Amy’s piano instructor, who she calls “Old Chong”, plays a small role in the story.
Amy’s dad is included in the text, but does not play much of a role. In “Two Kinds”, the exposition is clear in the first couple of pages. The story begins by explaining that Amy’s family moved to America when she was a baby, in 1949. Her mother is clear in her goals: she wants Amy to be a child prodigy (a person with exceptional talent) and famous. Although in the beginning Amy seems accepting of her mother’s goal, there are some undertones which are clear to the reader that her mother may go too far. Symbolism in literature “might include visual or sound elements as well as language”. Amy’s piano was the main symbol of this story.
In the end of the story, the fact that she had it tuned and actually sat down to play shows us that she really cared about her mother-and the piano-after all. The songs that she plays at the end are also a symbol of the story, itself. She mentions playing two songs. The first is titled “Pleading Child”, and the second one: “Perfectly Contented”. These are songs that she had played when she was a child. She notices for the first time, after all of these years, that these two songs are actually two halves to the same song.
The song represents Amy’s life. This is how the story ends. We get a pretty good idea of what Amy’s story is about and the theme behind it. She regrets not trying her best, and the way she has taken her mother for granted in her life. A strong message like this makes us reflect on our own lives and relationships with the ones we love. Amy constructs the story in a way that makes the plot flow, and we are interested in what will happen to her next. Some of us may even feel like she is too hard on the protagonist-her mother. The ending resolves these feelings, because we discover she feels this, too.
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