Lesson 7 Family Relationships:

Amy Tan


Pre-reading question:

1) How would you describe the overall tone of 'Two Kinds'? Does it ever change? At what point in the story does it shift?
2) Part of the beauty of the story comes from Tan's use of language, especially her metaphors and similes. Note a few while you are reading.
3) Look for humor while reading. Although this isn't a funny story, Tan uses humor quite a bit.
4) The title "Two Kinds" could be applied to a number of different pairs in the story as well as the comments the mother makes to Jing-Mei. What are some of these pairs?

Post-reading questions:

1) The reader's sympathy uses swings back and forth between the daughter and the mother. Jot down when you sympathize with the mother or the daughter. Do you think there's a balance, or does one end up siding with one or the other? Explain.
2) Look at the effect of Tan's choice of narrator and point of view. How does this choice of this point of view color the story?
3) What is the relationship between the mother and the daughter. How and why are the perspectives different?
4) This is also a story about the culture clash between an immigrant and a native born child. What makes this specifically about Chinese-Americans? Do you think this story could relate to anyone in any situation?
5) What is the significance of the final section. Why does the narrator return to the piano as an adult? What has she learned about herself and her mother?

Related Links:

Anniina's Amy Tan page, full of great links and you don't really need anywhere else:

Excellent long article on Tan. Highly recommended: http://www.theage.com.au/books/2001/05/07/FFXOCM14FMC.html

A fan's page: http://members.tripod.com/~Roella/AmyTan/

The Internet Public Library's Amy Tan page: http://www.ipl.org.ar/cgi-bin/ref/litcrit/litcrit.out.pl?au=tan-155

Book Magazine interview: http://www.bookmagazine.com/issue14/tan.shtml

Chronology of Amy Tan: http://www.allsands.com/Entertainment/People/amytanbiograph_anu_gn.htm

Rock Bottom Remainders, Tan's band! http://www.dqydj.com/rbr.htm

"Old China" information: http://www.talesofoldchina.com/introduction.html

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