One similarity that the mothers and daughters in the book shared with Tan and her family is that all of the parents had high expectations and goals for their children. Also, when all of the daughters were growing up, there was some sort of family secret kept away from them. Another parallel between the author and the characters in the book is that both of them had lost something that was meaningful to them.
The parents, mainly the mothers, pushed their daughters to the highest possible point of their ability to achieve successful lives. The daughters in the stories thought their mothers were very pushy about some things and they did not like it. However, what they did not realize is the intention their mother had for them to be in a better, more independent situation then they were. Jing-Mei Woo was one of the daughters in chapter eight titled Two Kinds and it stated, “I hated the tests, something inside of me began to die”. (Page 141) When Jing-Mei’s mother saw other people excelling, she thought it was necessary for her daughter to do the same thing. She had been put on a pedestal in her mind as a type of prodigy. But even though Jing-Mei was not pleased fulfilling her mother’s requests, she was hesitant about questioning her mom and her motives because they had always expected a lot from her from a young age.
Tan’s parents were similar to Jing-Mei’s parents also because they had her career set for her from day one of school starting. Straight A grades were the expected thing in her home. Sadly for Tan, from the age of five years old, her parents had already arranged her life and career for her. They wanted her to become a neurosurgeon and a concert pianist in her spare time and they made this very clear. They wanted her to become a neurosurgeon because they said the brain was the most important part of the human body. Tan felt pressurized from an early age trying to live up to her parent’s expectations. Essentially they tried making her into what they wanted instead of allowing her to become her own person.
Waverly is a daughter introduced in chapter five titled Rules of the Game who wants to learn to play the game of chess. Her mother is at first a bit hesitant but soon enough lets her try. Waverly’s mother becomes more persistent with the young girls interest to where she pushes Waverly to be the very best. However, with her mother’s interferences and pushiness, Waverly begins to dislike the game and does not want to play. Coincidently, it seems as though her mother loves chess more than the child does. An example of this is stated, “At the next tournament, I won again, but it was my mother who wore the triumphant grin.” (Page 99) Both Waverly and Tan’s mothers were overbearing with their initial interest in things.
Chapter seven labeled Half and Half describes that scenario where Rose and her family venture to the beach for the day. The book states, “I look up and see Bing walking alone to the edge of the reef. In the confusion of the fight, nobody notices. I am the only one who sees what Bing id doing.” (Page 133) In this section of the book, Rose senses that something bad is about to happen. “And I think, he’s going to fall in. I’m expecting it. And just as I think this, his feet are already in the air, in a moment of balance, before he splashes into the sea and disappears…