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Acceptance As Key To Success in Short Story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan: Critical Analysis

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These days, children seek for acceptance for who they truly are from their parents, who believe they can be something else. Sigmund Freud, a neurologist who discovered the psychoanalytic lens, believes there are three parts of the brain; the id, ego and superego. In the short story, “Two Kinds”, by Amy Tan, a young child named Jing-mei, has to go through her teenage years constantly pressured by her mom to become a prodigy. Her mother is a Chinese immigrant who came to San Francisco in 1949 after losing her husband, parents and two twin daughters. Before she migrated to the United States, Jing-mei’s mom never had any of the opportunities that she had wanted. She has high expectations for Jing-mei and tries to give her everything she couldn’t have growing up. But the high expectations and pressure Jing-mei is receiving not only damages their parent-child relationship, but also leads Jing-mei with low-self esteem and loss of her childhood that she should enjoy. This can be seen in “Two Kinds” by using psychoanalysis to view Jing-mei’s id, her mom’s ego and Jing-mei’s superego.

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” – JK Rowling. In “Two Kinds” Jing-mei’s id is to gain her mother’s acceptance. All she wants is for her mother to love her as to who she really is, not a prodigy. Jing-mei started off as a girl who loved to make her mother proud by completing tasks with excellent scores. But with success, there always comes failure. Jing-mei always hated watching her mom disappointed. “Before going to bed that night I looked in the mirror above the bathroom sink, and I saw only my face staring back. I began to cry. Such a sad, ugly girl!. Something inside of me began to die”. Jing-mei feels that she can’t keep up with what her mom expects from her and begins to gain hatred for herself. Her mother fails to see that by accepting Jing-mei for who she truly is, they can finally have a normal relationship.

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“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” In “Two Kinds”, it is clear to see Jing-mei’s mother’s ego. Her mom suffered before migrating to San Francisco. She had parents, a husband and two twin daughters. After the daughter’s death, she had an obsession with trying to make Jing-mei a prodigy. Growing up, her mom never had any of the opportunities Jing-mei has, now that they live in America. She tries to give her everything she couldn’t have before so she could be successful. She tries to put a lot of pressure on Jing-mei because she wants to feel like she didn’t fail her. This creates a problem between them, because the things that her mom is trying to give her, is not necessarily what she wants. Jing-mei’s Auntie Lindo has a child named Waverly who is incredibly gifted and is a prodigy. Jing-mei’s mom envies Auntie Lindo for having a prodigy daughter and makes her want to push Jing-mei more into doing stuff she feels like she needs.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” In “Two Kinds”, Jing-mei’s superego is visible. She believes that doing what her mom makes her do, she will finally back off. Jing-mei doesn’t realize that even after she has become a prodigy, her mom will always expect more. Jing-mei has piano lessons and has a tutor who is deaf. She makes mistakes occasionally and will not get corrected due to her tutor’s being deaf. Jing-mei fails and embarasses herself when she finally has to perform due to her lacking and never wanting to try. She never wanted to actually learn and be something different. Jing-mei’s mother finally accepts her for she truly is but it also pains her to see that she failed her.

To conclude, it is visible to see that the constant pressure and high expectations to be a perfect child or a prodigy harms not only the relationship but also the child’s self-esteem and can lead to loss of childhood. This can be seen by using psychoanalysis and viewing Jing-mei’s id, her moms ego and Jing-mei’s superego.

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Acceptance As Key To Success in Short Story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
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