Two Kinds by Amy Tan



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Two Kinds by Amy Tan

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Two Kinds by Amy Tan

Two Kinds Introducing the Story

  • . . . the aspiring immigrant . . . is not content to progress alone. Solitary success is imperfect success in his eyes. He must take his family with him as he rises.
  • Mary Antin, 1912

Two Kinds Introducing the Story

  • The mother in “Two Kinds” is a Chinese immigrant who sees promise in all that America has to offer. She pushes her daughter Jing-mei to become a prodigy. What will happen when Jing-mei pushes back?
  • What events helped shape the character of Jing-mei’s mother?
  • Click here to find out.
  • [End of Section]

Two Kinds Literary Focus: Conflict and Motivation

    • external conflict—clash between a character and some outside force (another character, society, nature, a situation)
  • Conflict is the struggle between opposing characters, forces, or emotions.
    • internal conflict—struggle between opposing needs, desires, or emotions within a character
  • An external conflict can often lead to an internal one, and vice versa.

Two Kinds Literary Focus: Conflict and Motivation

  • Motivation—the reasons characters behave as they do.
    • Literary characters, like real-life people, are motivated by their wants and needs. They make choices and behave in a certain way in order to get what they want.

Two Kinds Literary Focus: Conflict and Motivation

  • Conflict and motivation are closely tied. If characters weren’t motivated to fulfill certain wishes or desires, there would be no conflict.
  • Conflict
  • Something or someone gets in the way.
  • Character is motivated to get something he or she wants.

Two Kinds Literary Focus: Conflict and Motivation

  • The mother and daughter in “Two Kinds” are strongly motivated to influence each other.
  • Mother wants . . .
  • her daughter to excel so the mother can feel proud and brag to her friends.
  • Daughter wants . . .
  • to be allowed to be ordinary and still have her mother’s approval.
  • [End of Section]

Two Kinds Reading Skills: Making Inferences About Motivation

  • Inferences About Motivation
  • To understand a character’s motivation, you must make inferences, or intelligent guesses.
  • Base your inferences on clues from the text as well as on your own life experience.
  • Clues from Text
  • the character’s words and actions
  • how others react to the character
  • experiences with people
  • knowledge of how stories work

Two Kinds Reading Skills: Making Inferences About Motivation

    • how the two react to one another
    • the mother’s words and actions
    • Jing-mei’s words and actions
  • Use your powers of inference to determine what motivates each of these characters.
  • [End of Section]

Two Kinds Quickwrite

  • [End of Section]
  • Disagreements sometimes arise when what we want to do differs from what others want us to do. Has anyone ever expected you to do something you really didn’t want to do? Write about your experience and how you felt before, during, and after it.
  • Vocabulary

Two Kinds Vocabulary

  • Previewing the Vocabulary
  • prodigy n.: child of highly unusual talent or genius.
  • lamented v.: said with regret or sorrow. Lamented also means “mourned for; regretted intensely.”
  • listlessly adv.: without energy or interest.
  • mesmerizing v. used as adj.: spellbinding; fascinating.
  • discordant adj.: clashing; not in harmony.

Two Kinds Vocabulary

  • Previewing the Vocabulary
  • dawdled v.: wasted time; lingered.
  • stricken adj.: heartbroken; affected by or suffering from something painful or distressing.
  • fiasco n.: total failure.
  • nonchalantly adv.: without interest or concern; indifferently.
  • betrayal n.: failure to fulfill another’s hopes. Betrayal also means “act of disloyalty; deception.”

Two Kinds Vocabulary

  • Vocabulary Activity: Synonyms and Antonyms
  • Clues to a word’s meaning often can be found by identifying synonyms (words with similar meanings) or antonyms (words with opposite meanings) in the sentence. Look for signal words:
  • similarly as
  • like too
  • resembling also
  • Signal Words for Antonyms
  • although unlike
  • yet but
  • instead still
  • however not

Two Kinds Vocabulary

  • Vocabulary Activity: Synonyms and Antonyms
  • Jing-mei’s mother expected loyalty, not betrayal, from her daughter.
  • Synonym
  • Antonym
  • Jing-mei’s mother had a stricken look, like a woman who was heartbroken.
  • Like is a signal word for synonyms. Heartbroken is a synonym for stricken.
  • Not is a signal word for antonyms. Loyalty is a antonym for betrayal.

Two Kinds Vocabulary

  • Vocabulary Activity: Synonyms and Antonyms
  • Each sentence contains a bold-faced Word Bank word. Find the synonym or antonym of the bold-faced word.
  • 1. The math prodigy was hailed as a genius.
  • 2. Although she approached the task listlessly, she soon began to apply herself more energetically.
  • 3. He spoke nonchalantly of his accomplishments, as if indifferent to his success.
  • 4. Instead of the melodious music they had expected, the audience heard only discordant sounds.
  • synonym
  • antonym
  • synonym
  • antonym
  • [End of Section]
  • Meet the Writer

Two Kinds Meet the Writer

  • Amy Tan’s parents emigrated from China to California in the late 1940s, and Amy was born in 1952. Her Chinese name is An-mei; it means “blessing from America.” When Amy Tan was growing up, her family moved frequently. They finally settled in Santa Clara, California.
  • After winning an essay contest at age eight, Tan began to dream of becoming a fiction writer, although her parents wanted her to be a neurosurgeon.
  • [End of Section]
  • More About the Writer


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