Style of language

The short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan is written in a mix of neutral and informal style. The style of the narration is generally neutral: “We didn’t immediately pick the right kind of prodigy. At first my mother thought I could be a Chinese Shirley Temple. We’d watch Shirley’s old movies on TV as though they were training films.” (p. 1, ll. 14-16), while the direct speech expressing Jing-mei’s and Auntie Lindo’s comments has an informal style. The different style of language suggests the generational differences between Chinese immigrants, as the narrator, who was born in America, speaks English better than her older relatives.

Jing-mei’s mother expresses herself in broken English (p. 1, ll. 7-8), occasionally interrupted by the Chinese phrase “Ni kan” meaning the imperative “look, watch”. Jing-mei’s mother often uses this phrase to draw Jing-mei’s attention, suggesting that the mother generally orders her daughter to do something, instead of asking her. In another example of informal style, Auntie Lindo complains that her daughter “bring home too many trophy (...) All day I have no time do ...

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