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Literary Terms in Two Kinds: The Joy Luck Club (Essay Sample)


Write a ‘critical introduction' to one of the short stories we read in the first half of this course. Your paper should be useful to the reader who finished the first time reading of the story. Describe the story in general terms; summarize a scholar's response to the story, and describe what you think are the essential literary elements to understanding the story. Using MLA format, be sure to cite both the evidence from the text and the scholarly source you use and include a Works Cited page.


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Literary Terms in Two Kinds

“Two Kinds” is a short story that is extracted from Amy Tan’s book titles The Joy Luck Club. The first publication of the book occurred in 1989 and gained prominent as it helps touch on Chinese culture and its intersection with American culture. While the book carries a unifying plot, it is designed in a way that it has a series of stand-alone stories and one of these stories is “Two Kinds”. “Two Kinds” revolves around the relationship of a mother and daughter that is often confrontational. Some scholars believe that some of the events in the book reflect what actually happened in the author’s real life. Ultimately, what is evident is that Amy Tan uses literary terms to bring the events in “Two Kinds” to life. For this reason, it is important to analyze the literary terms that Tan employs including historical setting, main character, and the character of the mother to help develop the story.

One literary term that is evident in “Two Kinds” is the historical setting. The historical setting of the story is San Francisco, California most probably in Chinatown. The reader can assume the story happens in San Francisco because Jing-Mei gives reference to Sacramento Street in Chinatown where she lives with her mother. As the story begins, the narrator, Jing-Mei, claims that she learned when she was nine-years-old that her mother migrated from China to America. The mother was forced to flee to America after losing a great deal because of the civil war that was occurring in China around 1949. Tan writes, “She had come to San Francisco in 1949 after losing everything in China: her mother and father, her home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls” (Tan 1). Jing-Mei’s mother obviously came to America with a heavy heart after losing her entire family. However, she has high hopes in the ‘American Dream’ and believed that her daughter would be successful. After coming to America, she got pregnant with Jing-Mei most probably with a Chinese man who also had fled from China. This is evident because Jing-Mei declares “This wasn't China. I had listened to her before, and look what happened she was the stupid one” (Tan 5). This shows that Jing-Mei is adopted to the American culture and does not hold on to any cultural beliefs and values from China. Further, the references to the Ed Sullivan Show indicates that the story happens in the 1950s and 1960s. Actually, in the 1950s, many Chinese immigrated to America to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and various parts of California. This shows that the historical setting of the story is the 1950s and 1960s in San Francisco, California.
The other liter

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