The main characters in the short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan are Jing-mei and her mother. Their conflict is at the center of the narrative. The mother wants Jing-mei to be a child prodigy, but Jing-mei resists her mother’s attempts to turn her into something she is not, especially if it involves hard work on her part.

The two characters represent opposing viewpoints, and their conflict is heightened by their unwillingness to reach a compromise. Jing-mei’s mother wants a daughter who obeys her and succeeds in what she does, while Jing-mei becomes discouraged that she cannot seem to be able to meet her mother’s expectations. She also does not understand why her mother cannot accept her for who she is, instead of pushing her to change. The characters could also symbolize cultural and generational differences. Jing-mei’s mother, who has spent some of her life in China sees success differently from Jing-mei, who was born in America.

You can read a full characterization of Jing-mei and her mother in the following pages.