American Dream within the Story “Two Kinds”

There are lots of stories in which the main theme is the American Dream. One of them is the story “Two Kinds” written by Amy Tan. What could be also understood from the text as an extremely famous idea is exactly the American Dream. The theme is the subject or main idea in a talk, piece of writing or work of art as described in the Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary. In this story, one idea that exists throughout is what someone believes that the American dream is. This idea comes from the conversation between the mother and the daughter.

The story is narrated in the first person. That means, in this case, the daughter is telling the story. The way the story is narrated shows very much about the family and their values before and after their coming in The United States. It could be said that the subject in her writings is from her experience as growing up in the United States. “Her subject is the experience of growing up in America, from the perspective of the daughter of Chinese immigrants: her specific focus is often a complex emotional relationship between a Chinese-born mother with a strong personality and her American-born daughter.”(714) from these lines, her subject means the themes in her writings. The theme about the American Dream in this story is dealt in the relationship between the mother and her daughter. From their statements and opinions can be separated the theme of the American Dream. From its title is obvious that the theme is not just about the American Dream. On one hand is the mother which beliefs in the American Dream and on the other hand is the daughter who does not want to be what her mother wants her to be.

There are lots of authors which provide definitions what actually the American Dream is about. The following quote shows what is the American dream which will be for better understand the theme. “In its purest form, the American Dream is an ideal for society rather than for the individual, being a vision of a society that permits individuals to develop their potential without reference to their background or origins. Thus it is about a society that fosters opportunity and fulfillment, and not just about individual success or accumulation of wealth.” The above quote is from Stephen Matterson and in a fact that the family from the short story originates from China, it does not matter who they are or where they come from when they are in The United States. People can be whatever they want to be.

“My mother believed you could be anything you want to be in America.”(715) from this lines is obvious the attitude the mother has towards America. What is important is the word you. It does not refer to herself or to anyone else but to you. And you could be anyone except the mother. You can be the daughter when the mother speaks to her in a direct speech. From the very first line is obvious that in the story the American dream of the mother is her daughter to be famous, to be on television. In other words, the daughter can be what the mother wants her to be.

The daughter is not like her mother. “I won’t let her change me, I promised myself I want to be what I am not” (717) from this lines is obvious the attitude the daughter has towards her mother. Another sentence that shows the attitude towards her mother and towards America is the following sentence “I wasn’t her slave. This wasn’t China.” (723) this idea that the daughter is not a slave connects to the idea of the American Dream. There are no barriers in The United States that existed in the other civilizations. Those barriers are the culture and the values of the society. Suddenly the things change in the story. The daughter is fed up to be what she does not want to be. “Then I wish I wasn’t your daughter.” (724) I wish I were dead! Like them!” (724) when the daughter said this words the dream that the mother had about her daughter is finished. The American dream does not exist anymore for her mother.

On one hand, we have the American society where everyone can be whatever they want to be. On the other hand, we have the Chinese Society and the way that relation between parent and child works. The mother is still somehow connected to her society that children should respect their parents and do whatever parents ask from them. The daughter believes that here in this new country she can live her life as she wants to live. What is interesting is that the mother believes in the American Dream. She is the one who believes not her daughter. The contradiction between the mother and the daughter gives the reader a hint to the topic of this essay. That is the way that the author achieves to present the theme of the American Dream in this short story by telling a story from her experience. Or with other words narrating from the author’s point of view that is also a character in the story.

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