Family and culture should be the two most important things in our lives. In the short story, ‘A Pair of Tickets’ by Amy Tan, the main character (Jing-Mei) evolves over the course of the story by struggling with her identity as a Chinese to being able to accept her Chinese heritage. ‘My mother said when I was fifteen and had vigorously denied that I had any Chinese whatsoever below my skin’ (150). As Jing-Mei was growing up, she was influenced by the American culture all her life. She did not want to accept the fact that she was Chinese until she found a letter from her twin sisters trying to reach out to their mother who they did not know was dead. Jing-Mei refuses to accept her Chinese heritage, but as she got older, she realizes how important it is to connect with her roots.
Firstly, by Jing-Mei not willing to accept her heritage causes her to not be able to know what it is like to be Chinese. After her mother’s death, Jing-Mei received a letter from her twin sisters whom her mother left on the side of the road for someone to come take them because she thought she was going to die. Jing-Mei’s mother did not want her kids to suffer; she wanted them to be loved. Throughout her entire life Jing-Mei’s mother tried her best to instill in her the importance of her Chinese heritage. ‘Once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but to feel and think Chinese’ (150), as her mother would tell her. Jing-Mei never knew why it was so important for her to learn about her inner Chinese, and she was also sometimes embarrassed by it.
Secondly, Jing-Mei and her father start taking trips so she could learn more about her heritage. Along the way, she learns many things about her real roots, and she discovers things she never knew before. Their first stop was in Guangzho, where she will get to meet her father’s aunt. Her family is a very united family; they make decisions together and look out for one another. Upon their arrival at Gaungzho, Jing-Mei gets nervous and although she is trying hard to assimilate her thoughts seem to go back and forth between being Chinese and continually questioning her heritage. The struggle is evident as she quotes ‘The minute our train leaves the Hong Kong border and enters Shenzhen, China, I feel different. I can feel the skin on my forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a new course, my bones aching with familiar old pain and I think, my mother was right. I am becoming Chinese’ (152). This trip to China may be an attempt on her part to conform with her Chinese heritage, but in reality the trip is the fulfillment of what she felt was an obligation to carry out her mother’s wishes who wanted to take the trip herself to finally meet the two daughters she abandoned as a young woman.
Lastly, Jing-Mei is starting to accept her Chinese heritage. As Jing-Mei and her father lands in Shanghai, she was quite anxious to meet her twin sisters. She sees in them the part of her that is Chinese. Her father takes pictures of them, and as they look at the photograph, they realize how much they look like their mother. By her getting to meet her sisters, Jing-Mei finds her identity.
As a result, Jing-Mei evolves over the course of the story by struggling with her identity as a Chinese to being able to accept her Chinese heritage. Jing-Mei finally knows what it feels like to be Chinese. She remembered everything her mother told her before she died. Her journey with her father has helped her gain more knowledge on their Chinese heritage. There is no difference between appearance and reality; they are all the same at the end of the day. Furthermore, such notions do not really matter at all. All that counts are the blood and heritage.