Two Kinds vs Everyday Use: Compare & Contrast
The conflict between parents and children is one of the most pressing concerns of the world throughout the ages. This is not because unconditional love is uncommon in the world but the main reason for the clash is the generation gap, which exists between. This is again not the sole reason for the conflict existing between the children and parents. There are many underlying reasons, which exist for the conflict between the parents and the children. Few of which may be due to the advancement of the knowledge, educational background which separates the understanding of the children from the parents and even the use of technology. The two stories in the discussion here that is Amy Tan’s Two Kinds and Alice Walker’s Everyday Use. Both of the stories are set in America and are about different cultures that have come and settled in a different country.
Amy Tan’s short story is about Chinese culture and Alice Walker’s story is about the African culture. Both of them depict the difference in the children’s new-formed ideas about their heritage and the experience of their parents who have endured. The clash depicted in both stories is about the clash of identities. Both the children and the parents suffer from the clash of identities that they have faced in the new countries where they have settled. The dealings of the culture clashes are different in the different generations. While the children choose to portray their flimsy new found incomplete knowledge about their own cultures by aggressive behavior such Walker’s character Dee, Mama’s daughter, who changed her name as a sign of protest for her heritage yet she did not actually know the deep-rooted actual culture of her country Africa, the parents are seen enduring and resilient (Warren 256). Similarly in Amy Tan’s story the young Chinese American girl, Jing-Mei Woo (June), thinks that being a Shirley temple actress is the highest way in which she could be close to her culture while her mother thinks otherwise. Therefore, in this way both the texts underline the dual conflicts of the families based in America.
Both the authors agree that the cost of moving away from heritage and settling in another country is a heavy price paid by the parents in the two stories. This is because in both the stories the parents not only face a cultural rift with their children but also face emotional cut off to the point that the next generation is not only deluded about their culture, they actually do not know about their culture at all. They have a flimsy understanding of it and they concentrate on the showy part of their culture. To Jing-Mei, the protagonist of Two Kinds, her culture is about being a Chinese Shirley Temple. She is thrilled to watch a Chinese actor on television and she wants to be like her. Also in the other story the protagonist Mama’s daughter, Dee does not have the deep earthy compassion, which is a trait of the African people or even their long-enduring habit; she is all full of protest about her heritage, which she is not even clearly aware. The cost and the price, which the parents pay, are not only cultural rift but also conflict between them and their children. The difference, which the new culture has instilled, in the children and the education, which the children receive, makes the children fully rooted in neither their own culture nor the new culture where they have settled. They become misfits to both the cultures to which they cannot adopt or be a part (Walker 314).
The authors differ in their depiction of the story. In Amy Tan’s short story, the child is the narrator while in Walker’s short story, Mama, the mother, is the protagonist. The ways in which the authors differ in their assessment of the two stories are at the end of Tan’s short story the child realizes that it has been always a part of a broken culture that had never quite adapted to the new or had let go of the old. The portion where Jing-Mei finds that the piano lessons, taught to her, was only half the part brings home this understanding. This is significant because she was never a part of the American culture and the shifting of the countries rendered her rootless. She was not a part of America neither was she fully a part of the Chinese culture which she longed to be a part of (Tan 6). Walker’s story in which Mama realizes intuitively that Dee, although she was educated would not understand her scars, her marks, and her culture deals with the treatment of the loss of culture in a different way. Mama understands that Education has made Dee just aware of her culture but she has not understood the depth of it. Whereas Maggie, the other daughter who is almost absent in the story embodies the cultural endurance of Mama. At the end of the story, Mama realizes that Maggie would be able to understand and protect the cultural heritage better than Dee therefore she does not handover the quilts to her. While Walker shows the survival of the culture through Maggie, Tan shows the knowledge of the broken culture. This in the way the two authors differ in the assessment of struggle.
Tan, Amy. 2014. Web. 29 Jul. 2014.
Walker, Alice. N. p., 2014. Web. 29 Jul. 2014.
Warren, Nagueyalti. Alice Walker. 1st ed. Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Press, 2013. Print.