What is significant about the title “Two Kinds”?
Name: __________________________________________ Section ________________________
Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” Critical Reading Questions Due: May 14 (2052) – May 15 (2055)
The short story is in Kirszner and Mandell, pp. 687-695 and/or the pdf file located on Canvas.
Background: “Two Kinds” demonstrates the impact of the past on the present, reinforcing the belief that personal history shapes an individual’s cultural identity and attitudes about the world in the present. Suyuan Woo, in this story builds her and her family’s new life in America. Jing-Mei, is the daughter and narrator, she begins her story with “My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America” (687). Jing Mei “June” narrates this short story by looking back on her childhood piano lessons. Her mother’s past life in China affects her daughter’s life in this country, just as her daughter, Jing-Mei‘s childhood experiences affect her identity and adult life in the present and future.
Directions: Evidence should come from the short story. Quotes must include a correct signal phrase, correct citation, and analysis. Write your answers in complete sentences. We will review this during our Zoom meeting, but you must Email me your responses to these questions in order to receive the points. Please make sure to add your name at the top of this page and your section number.
Study Guide Questions: Answer all of the following questions. (14 points)
1. What is significant about the title “Two Kinds”? How does the title suggest the theme?
2. What are some of the ways Suyuan (the mother) tries to make her daughter into a prodigy? Why does she decide on Jing-Mei becoming a great pianist? How does this support the theme?
3. How does the piano, as one major metaphor show how Tan links this to the mother-daughter relationship? Explain its significance to the theme of the role of the past in maintaining a link between the past and the resent? How does Jing-Mei’s refusal to play the piano set up for conflict?
4. In Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds,” Jing-Mei begins her story with “My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America” (687). How does this first sentence set the stage for the conflict between the past and the present—the conflict between a daughter and mother found in this story?
5. How does the setting influence the characters? Does it affect or reflect their emotional state? Does it help explain their motivation? How important are the objects (physical setting) to the plot?
6. How effective is the point of view for this story? What prompted the narrator to tell this story?
7. What does the scene at the end of the chapter link to the theme? What do the two songs tell the reader about how Jing-mei has changed? In what ways do “Pleading Child” and “Perfectly Contented” describe Jing-me?