Two Kinds by Amy Tan Discussion Questions

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Students will consider the most prevalent aspects of Amy Tan's short story 'Two Kinds.' The questions offered here will guide students through reflective discussions on the story's plot, characters and themes.

Discussing 'Two Kinds'

Amy Tan's short story, 'Two Kinds', focuses on the relationship between Jing-Mei (June) Woo and her culturally conservative mother, Mrs. Woo. The story chronicles events in June's childhood that led her to feelings of regret in adulthood. Your student will be confronted with a strong cultural clash between mother and daughter in this engaging story.

The questions offered here will guide your students through deep reflection on the plot, characters and themes in 'Two Kinds.'

General Discussion Questions

  • How does your own upbringing compare to June's?
    • Are you parents as strict as June's mom?
    • Do you resist rules like June does?
  • Is Mrs. Woo too hard on June? Support your opinion.
    • Do you think Mrs. Woo's cultural background explains all of her behaviors?
    • Do you think Mrs. Woo's personal past experiences (and loss) contribute more to her behaviors than her culture? Why or why not?
  • If the Woo's still lived in China, do you think June's childhood would be different? How so?
    • Would June behave different if she were a Chinese child living in China? Why?
  • What is June's culture?
    • Can a child's culture differ from that of his/her parents? How?
  • Do you think there is anything June could have done to stop her mother's pressure? What?
    • Is this story a fair representation of Chinese-American culture? Why or why not?
  • Discuss Mr. Chong's impact on June.
    • How do you think June feels about him?
    • Would the story have the same impact on the reader without Mr. Chong?
  • Mrs. Woo tells June there are two kinds of daughters; discuss these two kinds.
    • Do you agree with Mrs. Woo? Why or why not?
  • What impact did June's performance at the talent show have on her relationship with her mother?
    • Who was at fault later when June's mother died with the two still emotionally distant from each other?
  • What important lesson is revealed at the end of the story?
    • How do you think this revelation will impact the rest of June's life?
    • How do these two music titles relate to the previously mentioned two kinds of daughters?

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