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Two Kinds and Everyday Use Comparison

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In present-day society, families go through several problems and arguments regarding numerous issues which would have been considered unacceptable in past times. Throughout a variety of different cultures, the level of respect and obedience for one’s parents has diminished while the negotiation of conformity and rebellion has risen. This statement is supported and evidential in two different stories, “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. Although these stories represent different cultures, they both exemplify the values and importance of family relations; as well as demonstrate in every culture families face social problems. In both these stories, two major topics stood out which allowed me to compare each one to one another. These topics were mother-daughter relationships and obedience as a whole. The story Two Kinds is about a Chinese girl, Jing-Mei, who lives life trying to find herself under her over-bearing mother’s envisions and high expectations of what she feels Jing-Mei should become.

The subject of the mother-daughter dynamic and lack of obedience is revealed from the beginning of the story; as well as the fact their relationship is rather conflicted. Throughout the story Jing-Mei is very obstructive to the ideas her mom puts forth. Her constant acts of disobeying and rebelling against her mom orders, express how the tension arose between Jing-Mei and her mom. The fact her mom had an extremely difficult life in China until she lost everything and moved to America, explains and sort of justifies why she was so obsessed with Jing-Mei excelling and making something of her, life in addition to her desire of wanting to be able to brag. Unfortunately, rather than allowing Jing-Mei to find something she was comfortable with and make an independent decision of what she wanted in her life, she forced activities and ideas on her which eventually resulted in Jing-Mei becoming rebellious. As Jing-Mei became rebellious, her mom implemented her Chinese culture and explained to Jing-Mei there were “only two kinds if daughters, those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind;” furthermore if she wanted to live in that house she must be obedient.

With the use of Jing-Mei’s mother quote it transfers me to “Everyday Use” because both kinds of the daughters explained are present in that story. Similarly to Two Kinds, the story Everyday Use tells a tale of a mother’s conflicted relationship with her two daughters. Disparate to Two Kinds on the other hand, this story is told from the mother’s, Mrs. Johnson, perspective. Rather than focusing on the obedience factor and the idea of making something of oneself, I believe the moral of Everyday Use was to display the importance of one’s heritage, identity, and pride. Throughout the story the aspect of individuality becomes a prominent feature. Mrs. Johnson (Mama) explains how even though Maggie and Dee, her two daughters, grew up in the same house, they each developed two distinctive and contrasting views of what their past, present and future is about. These views eventually became the basis in which Mama used when she had to conform to one her daughter’s beliefs.

Throughout the story, Mama explained how Maggie had a very low self-esteem, remained uneducated, was very shy, and envious of her sister Dee. However, she accepted her heritage with pride and did not try to change who she was, unlike her sister who wanted to be called “Wangero.” Dee, on the contrary, was educated, good-looking, demanding, and ashamed of her heritage. She liked to be known for her belongings and tried to get rid of her past by changing her name (which held great value) and only displaying things with worth from her past. In the story, a dispute comes about, which was who should receive the grandma’s quilts even though they were already promised to Maggie. Dee argued her sister wouldn’t appreciate the quilts; she would put them to everyday use rather than hang them. Mama explained that was the purpose of the quilts to be used; it held no sentimental value because it was a materialistic thing. At this part of the story, Mama conformed to Maggie’s needs by giving her the quilts instead of obeying Dee’s (Wangero’s) demands as usual. In the story Everyday Use, Dee otherwise known as Wangero, is the rebellious character just as Jing-Mei was in Two Kinds.

These stories show relation because the two kinds of daughters Jing-Mei’s mother describes in Two Kinds are evident in Everyday Use. Maggie would be the obedient daughter explained while Dee would be the one who chose to follow her own mind. Though both stories represent different cultures, the both embody the importance of customs and tradition. As displayed in these stories, there is not always a mutual agreement within the family about several situations. Even I have faced conflict within my family, while I was growing up a time or two. Whether the issue involved something that you felt wasn’t fair or it was simply because you were told to do something in which you did not want to abide; the fact remains in every culture, family, life, or relationship, there will come a time where a conflict will arise. It can be due to rebellion or just a simple disagreement but either way it will be present. Both stories “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker exemplify and validate that this is true. -Brianna Tillery

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