The Fallacies on the American Dream in Two Kinds, a Short Story by Amy Tan

Topics: Amy Tan

In the short story “Two kinds” by Amy Tan, she writes about a child named Jing-mei and her experiences with her mother pushing her to become a prodigy, all while her mother deals with being a Chinese immigrant that just moved to the United States. The two countries obviously share very different cultures and this plays a part in the story as she pushes Jing mei to live ‘The American Dream’. Her mother strongly believes that in America you can be whatever you want to be.

This, to some, may not be true, however this idea is strongly pushed in the Chinese culture. This is shown when Jing-mei fails to do any prodigious task that her mother puts in front of her which leads to her mother being ultimately disappointed in Jing mei. Her failures ends up causing a huge argument between Jing-mei and her mother. The argument could be called the climax of the story. This confrontation wouldn’t have happened if Jing-mei’s mother didn’t have the huge idea that The American Dream is a legitimate thing, and Jing-mei’s mother wouldn’t have that perception of America if the Chinese culture didn’t present the United States as such a place.

Based on Chinese culture and perspectives, there are numerous fallacies concerning the American Dream, and these are displayed in Amy Tan’s short story “Two kinds”.

Chinese culture is obviously extremely different than the culture in the United States, and not many Chinese citizens actually know what it’s like to live in America.

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This could lead to the United States being represented incorrectly. Most Chinese citizens have the impression that America is the land of dreams, and that you can go there and live a successful life, make money and be famous but that’s not always true. According to an article written by Patrick Kim of; there’s a huge list of shows that are popular in China that are originally from the United States. The most popular show on the list is a show called The Big Bang Theory. In the show, there are four geeks who all have their PHDs and all do wacky things. Since this is a popular show in China, a good percentage of the population is most likely watches the show. The show could easily give off the impression to Chinese citizens looking to immigrate to America that you can just come to the country and become a doctor or scientist since the show doesn’t display anything negative about America in terms of the economy.

Chinese citizens would be filled with hope that their lives are changing only to be heartbroken and distraught when they find out that to become a doctor they need $40,000 a year that they don’t have because they didn’t bring any money with them from China. This is just one of many ways that China falsely displays American life. In addition to China presenting ‘The American Dream’ as a legitimate lifestyle, China also glorifies child prodigies. There’s many talent shows that are similar to America’s Got Talent and The X-Factor that often feature children performing songs and gaining fame from being on national television. On the Chinese talent show titled Amazing Chinese, there’s a viral video of Zhang Junhao, a three year old boy, doing some dance moves that obviously makes the crowd love him. There’s an article on that’s written by Emily Lodish. In the article, Emily states “He’s got the judges eating out of the palm of his hand and an entire audience swooning.”She says that Zhang can do something that no three year old should know how to do, and that’s playing an audience. Before the performance, he says to the judges “When I dance, my mom laughs. My mom says laughing is happiness. My dream is to make people happy because I am happy.

Are you happy?” This certainly isn’t something that a toddler should be able to do naturally, which could only mean that he was taught how to do this by someone. His parents or parent could have obviously pushed Zhang to dance incredibly hard until he had it mastered, and then told him just what to tell the judges to get that nice heartwarming feeling out of the performance. This is just one of many examples of Chinese parents forcing their child to do some sort of prodigious task, which leads me to my next point. In Amy Tan’s short story Two kinds, Jing-mei’s mother forces her to do all sorts of prodigious tasks so that her daughter can be the best daughter and be all sorts of talented. The only issue is that Jing-mei fails at all of the tasks that are put in front of her and makes her mother very disappointed. Just like when talking about Zhang Junhao’s dance performance, his mother most likely was forcing him to do all of that, just like when Jing-mei’s mother was forcing her to play the piano and perform in the talent show where she ended up embarrassed herself. Looking back at my first paragraph, Jing-mei’s parents were immigrants who moved to America straight from China for the sole purpose of finding and living a better life for their family.

Jing-mei’s mother had the idea of the “American Dream” in her head while moving to America, since she believed that she could do anything in America. In conclusion, it’s not unusual for Chinese culture to falsely present the United States as the Disneyland of countries to live in, but it brings false hope to immigrants who come from China expecting the holy grail of a wealthy life. They come to a new country, hoping to start living “The American Dream” yet end up getting ultimately disappointed.. It also gives parents the idea that they can make their children become a child prodigy and become the perfect child since they show Chinese versions of American reality shows on television networks.

Works Cited

  1. Kim, Patrick. “American TV Shows Popular in China.” Chinese Learning Tips, TutorMing,12 Sept. 2016,
  2. Lodish, Emily. “Don’t be fooled by this adorable Chinese 3-Year-Old and his dance moves.”Public Radio International, PRI, 6 Apr. 2014,

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The Fallacies on the American Dream in Two Kinds, a Short Story by Amy Tan. (2022, Mar 08). Retrieved from

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