Literary perspective

The short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan is a modernist text. One of the elements which identifies it as modernist is the focus on the individual, instead of on society as a whole. The story is centered around Jing-mei, her thoughts and feelings, her conflict with her mother as a child, and her growth as a character. 

The shift in perspective and the theme of transformation and development is another modernist element. The main character gains maturity and changes throughout the course of the story, despite her initial reluctance to do so. The main character’s transformation is conveyed through symbols such as the piano and the two musical pieces.

Works with the same theme 

The short story “Where the Gods Fly” by Jean Kwok also focuses on a Chinese family living in the US. Unlike in “Two Kinds”, where the mother pressures Jing-mei to be successful as a child, despite her own lack of interest and reluctance, in “Where the Gods Fly”, Pearl’s mother wants to withdraw her from ballet classes. This happens despite Pearl’s obvious talent, because Pearl’s mother believes poor immigrants like them cannot afford to be exceptional.

The short story “A Family Supper” by Kazuo Ishiguro also touches on the conflict between generations, as the father is disappointed in the son who moved to America and tries to impose his own traditionalist values on the son. Unlike in “Two Kinds”, the conflict between the father and the son in “A Family Supper” remains unresolved, as the son is unable to communicate with his father....

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