Amy Tan (2004) wrote a very excellent story on the struggles living and growing in two different cultures. There is humor in the story right at the very beginning. The mother pictured as training her child to become a child prodigy with very little resources, including that of a botched hair job and subsequently having a deaf piano teacher, allows the reader to enjoy the entertainment side to the plot. The parent and child relationship depicted is so typical of those raised as Amerasians in whatever American era.
However, any individual will be able to identify many shades of the common struggle between parent and child expectations and definitions of roles within the family. In this story, as Jing slowly realizes the growing disparity between the two cultures on her identity, her mother’s frustrations become increasingly apparent. If they were in China, probably, the gap would not have been as wide since the basic ideology on parents being almost deified is reinforced and uniformly followed by almost everybody (Tan, 2004).
The collectivist background being imposed on an individualistic society which comprises the setting that the daughter is being exposed to, contributed much to their mutual frustrations and disappointments. Resentments on both sides are bound to come inevitably and the gap between mother and daughter evidently widened (Tan, 2004). Though very close to monitoring the whereabouts and almost running her daughter’s life, this too was Jing’s mother’s weakness as a parent.
Her limitations as to her perceptions of what real success is, allowed both mother and daughter to progress into failure rather than into the better life they were supposed to lead (Tan, 2004). In the same manner, but in an altogether different setting, Anne Tyler’s Teenage Wasteland (1985), shows the clear misunderstandings between mother and son which became all the more tragic as the story progresses. The gap which existed between the mother and the son is already apparent at the outset as the narrator (in the case of the mother Daisy) discussed her observations regarding the dilemmas her son was facing (Tyler, 1985).
In both of the stories, the mothers are pictured with all their frustrations and griefs of being disappointments as parents and the children acting as if they were victims of the wishes and aspirations of the mothers. These are the commonalities. In Teenage Wasteland however, I believe that much of the blame can be placed on both parents (not only Daisy). In Anne Tyler’s depiction, we see the whole story unfolding through the eyes of Daisy, but we also see her frailties and that of her husband, as well as the manner that they conducted their family relationship especially with their son.
They are more of a permissive type rather than that of an authoritarian or authoritative kinds. This greatly resulted to the degradation or deterioration of the communication lines between them and their son Donny (Tyler, 1985). In conclusion, the better parent between the two I believe is Jing’s mother in Two Kinds. This is justified by the denouement in each of the stories. Jing somehow as a daughter has come to realizations regarding the many sacrifices her mother made not only for herself but for her daughter as well, which eventually bore fruit many years later.
True to the theme and title, in Teenage Wasteland, the mother visibly failed as tragedy is painted at the end of the story where Donny can no longer be found or traced (Tyler, 1985). All of Daisy’s efforts and good intentions were too late to salvage whatever relationship she’s had with her son Donny. If she had insights, she could have realized earlier the signs and symptoms of her son’s problems as well as the problems related with the interventions provided by the school and see the kind of person Beadle the tutor was.
There were a lot of chances offered to Daisy and her husband as evidenced throughout the story, but as a mother, she lacked the necessary extra diligence to safeguard her son from further negative influence other people had on Donny. Reference: Tan, Amy (2004). “Two Kinds. ” The Oxford Book of American Short Stories. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 714-26. . Tyler, Anne (1985). Ed. George E. Murphy, Jr. New York, Bantam.