"Self-Discovery in Two Kinds" and "The Story of an Hour"

"Self-Discovery in Two Kinds"  and "The Story of an Hour" Essay

Nov 5, 2020 at Free Literature Essays Online as Urgent Writing Help

"Self-Discovery in Two Kinds" by Amy Tan and "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and Two Kinds by Ami Tan tend to be the striking illustrations of the use of numerous topics, motifs, and problems in literature. Among them, the concept of self-discovery is the most notable. It reflects the characters nature, their true feelings and emotions. In other words, the concept of self-discovery is to be determined as a self-revelation of the characters personalities and their inner worlds. In addition, this aspect helps the heroes of the short fiction understand the peculiarities of their moral issues, interactions with the outer world, and it reveals the most decisive points of their lives.

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Particularly, the relationships of the protagonists of the stories with their families or friends, as well as some peculiar moral values, are deemed to have an immense impact on the overall understanding of both works. Besides, the authors apply various techniques to enhance the process of self-discovery. Therefore, the two works by Amy Tan and Kate Chopin are the vivid representations of self-discovery through the prism of the protagonists of the stories, the relationships with their families or themselves, and plentiful moral aspects of their personalities.

The Concept of Self-Discovery in the Stories

The short stories by Kate Chopin and Amy Tan represent the similar confessions of two women of different age and origin, who experience the revelations of their true feelings and self-discoveries afterwards. The protagonists of these pieces of short fiction recollect the events from their lives that have greatly influenced their further lives and their self-esteem. Self-discovery, through the perspective of the characters of both short stories, is an example of an attempt to cognize ones true feelings and attitudes towards various factors that have a tremendous impact on ones existence. Furthermore, the knowledge of ones faithful emotions and standpoints in relation to diverse individuals or objects is an essential element of exploring oneself and obtaining happiness or contentment.

For instance, the two self-discoveries of Jing-mei Woo in Two Kinds and Louise Millard from The Story of an Hour proved that analyzing and revealing the real feelings is a significant step in gaining the awaited and soothing truth about the genuine emotions and concerns. For instance, according to Jamil (2009), self-discovery of Louise Millard contributes to clarifying the perceptions of her current life and further expectations. She is no longer blind because of her previous negative experiences, yet now she is able to apperceive lifes immeasurable beauty (p. 220). At the same time, Jing-mei Woo reveals her feelings after a long period of being discordant with her relatives. Thus, the self-discoveries of the two characters might be defined as the foremost experiences in their entire lives.

As for The Story of an Hour, Louise Millard is the protagonist of the story, and she experiences a moment of self-discovery before the end of her life. She is believed to be a typical American young woman of the nineteenth century (Jamil, 2009, p. 215). The main character lives with her family, consisting of her husband and sister. Chopin depicts their relationship as rather tense because they seem to be distant from each other during the whole story. Louise lives an unfortunate life. Supposedly, she despises her husband or has just a friendly attitude towards him. Simultaneously, Josephine, the sister, is also involuntary engaged in a close relationship with her sibling.

Consequently, Louise needs to conform to the current living conditions, as she does not have any possible alternatives. However, one day an accident occurs. Mr. Mallard is claimed to have died in a railway disaster. Nonetheless, Louise does not react as a mourning and stricken wife, yet she shouts free, free, free (Chopin, n.d., para.10). These outcries reflect the true feelings about her spouse and the dissatisfaction with her current being. The supposed death of Brently Mallards evokes a brief moment of illumination, a short-lived discovery of life and happiness. In fact, Louises self-discovery becomes the joy that kills (Chopin, n.d., para. 20). Therefore, self-revelation is a crucial part in Louises life, as she experiences it shortly before her death.

Jing-mei Woo, a main character of Two Kinds by Amy Tan, originates from China, and she faces the dilemma of following her mothers dreams or becoming a separate individual. The protagonist recounts her childhood and the difficulties of that period. As a little girl, Jing-mei suffers from her mothers attempts to find a prodigy (Tan, n.d., para.2), or a hidden talent, in her child. Numerous unsuccessful tries result in undesirability of a child to proceed. Particularly, the piano lessons are principal reasons for discord. The leitmotif of Two Kinds is stated by the girls mother you just not trying (Tan, n.d., para. 12).


To put it another way, the girl resists both her moms influence and the inner feelings or convictions about the permanent failures. However, with reference to Hoyte (2004), all the contradictions are reconciled in the final scene, as Jing-mei discovers that her mother was right in terms of advising her daughter to keep trying and practicing (p. 168). Self-revelation in this piece of Tans short fiction consist in apprehending the chances of self-development, seeking for new possibilities of challenging oneself, and trying to live the life in accordance with ones true expectations and concerns. Consequently, Two Kinds is another example of self-discovery through the prism of listening to the wishes and dreams, and not giving up trying.

Both stories encompass the struggles that the protagonists face during their lifetimes. The two women recall their memories and experiences in order to represent their inner views or opinions about themselves and the outer world in general. The main characters seem to find themselves in ambiguous situations, as they need to decide what the next step is. Besides, Louise and Jing-mei encounter different other issues, such as problems in relationships with their families, permanent annoyance, and dissatisfaction. Thus, both characters discover themselves during the difficult times in their lives.

The Role of Family in Self-Discovery

Not only the inner worlds of the protagonists but also their relationships with others have a profound impact on unmasking their real feelings and emotions. The characters are dependent on their families hopes and plans, and the impact of their relatives is very important. For instance, Jing-mei, Tans protagonist, was a little girl when she had to deal with her mothers inculcations. The child wanted to have more freedom apart from someones constant pressure. At the same time, only after the supposed wrecking of her husband is Louise able to understand a pernicious effect of the relationships with the family on her. Thus, interactions with relatives are the fundamental elements in the process of self-discovery.

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The Story of an Hour depicts a typical situation of the time of action in the story. As aforementioned, the approximate settings of the literary work are the American territories in the late nineteenth century (Jamil, 2009, p. 215). The status of women at that time was quite unclear. On the one hand, they had some independence and deference. On the other hand, a tradition of forcing the girls to marry men that had been chosen by the parents still existed. Supposedly, Louise was likewise compelled to marry someone she did not love. As a result, the spouses were not close to each other. Additionally, the main character claimed that she only sometimes loved her husband, yet not always or seemly. Besides, the protagonist of the story did not have a pleasant and frank connection with her sister as well as she did not open the door during her sisters attempt to come in and help (Chopin, n.d., para. 15). Freedom from being married and cooped in the dissatisfying relationships was the principal desire of the main character. She even exclaims these words as a sign of a brief illumination and discovering her true feelings towards the spouse. However, the short period of self-revelation leads to disastrous consequences, as the main character sees her husband safe and sound. Thus, the influence of family is a primary implement in the analysis of the self-discovery in The Story of an Hour.

At the same time, Two Kinds also focuses on the relationships with the relatives as a reason for discovering ones real feelings and emotions. The relations between two women, a mother and a daughter, are central in the entire story. Jing-mei Woo, Tans protagonist, suffers from her mothers constant oppressions and remarks about practicing and trying to succeed in piano lessons, for instance. According to Hoyte (2004), the main explanation of mothers compulsion is the living conditions of the majority of emigrants and a desire to survive in a brand-new home (p. 164).

However, the little girl is rather unexperienced, so she is not capable of understanding her mothers ideas. Furthermore, the daughter is permanently dissatisfied with her moms pressure, so she stands against the influence and attempts to act in an opposite way. For instance, taking into consideration the aforementioned lessons, Jing-mei neglects them and behaves in her own special way. For example, during the piano lessons the girl plays whatever she wants, as the teacher is deaf. However, her mother is patient and bearing, even after a vast number of tries, she does not give up and proceeds. The final scene is a reconciling moment, as the daughter finally accepts the familys intentions and apprehends that one should always continue trying, as is was said by the mother. The motive of self-discovery through the prism of relationships among the family members consists in understanding the mothers intentions and her desires to imbue her child with persistence and inner strength, that are significant features in the process of developing ones personality. Hence, the relationships between two women in Two Kinds eventually lead to accepting the daughters real concerns in terms of realizing the rightness of an older woman and discovering the emotions that help come to a mutual understanding with her mother.

Both stories encompass the relationships among different family members. The protagonists, Jing-mei and Louise, have troubles with apprehending and fulfilling their relatives expectations, as they seem to have their own views and convictions. In addition, the overall atmosphere in the families might be described as tense and perplexing, as the members are dissatisfied with the current interconnections between them. However, the disappointments, especially from the main characters points of view, ultimately lead to either trusting their relatives or enhancing their self-reliance. Thus, family issues play a decisive role in discovering oneself in both stories, by Amy Tan and Kate Chopin.

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The Representation of Moral and Social Values

Moral and social values are considerable elements of the self-revelation process. Various issues, such as religious and context, cultural identities and some other aspects, profoundly influence the characters' lives in terms of unmasking their true emotions and concerns. For instance, the origin of both protagonists affects their perception of the whole world and the current situation, in particular. At the same time, different moral concepts, such as not willing to lament the death of a close relative or disrespecting ones relatives, play an important role in apprehending the backgrounds of both protagonists and their ways of revealing their feelings.

As for The Story of an Hour, the author describes Louise as a young woman with a rather difficult social background. She lives with her husband and sister, yet the relationships with them are strained and even unfriendly. After having heard about the supposed wrecking, the main character should have felt the overpowering grief or, at least, sorrow because of her mans death. Nonetheless, Louise is contended and rejoices. Initially, it may seem that she lacks even the simplest compassion, especially from the religious and moral points of view. However, after being ill-fated for such a long time, her emotions wrap her and make her alive again. Besides, the burden of undesirable marriage vaporizes, so she is free to do whatever she wants. In her story, Chopin undercuts the Christian, moral, and social values, as the restricted joy of independence and oppressiveness of marriage take place. Louise undergoes different challenges, and eventually, she is feeling herself free, even though the society would not probably accept it. Furthermore, she suffers from an inherent marriage because of the marital peculiarities of that time. Therefore, The Story of an Hour depicts different layers of social, moral, and other values that contribute to self-understanding of the protagonist.

As for Two Kinds, some moral and social values seem to be more significant and influential. Firstly, Jing-mei disrespects her mother, as she reminds her mother of her two dead daughters that were left in China after the emigration. She also mistreats her mother in terms of despising and even scorning her for being too persistent. Besides, the social conditions influence self-determination and revelation. To the former Chinese citizens, America seems to be a land of plentiful opportunities. It is a representation of the possibility to fulfil ones dreams with the help of hard work. However, the daughter does not support these beliefs, as she is not willing to participate in her mothers plans to make the child a prodigy. The girl claims that I wasnt her slave. This wasnt China (Tan, n.d., para. 10). Hence, the social and moral values of both a mother and a daughter seem to be rather opposite, yet they play a significant role in the apprehension of the motif of self-revelation in both stories.

The principal social, moral, and religious issues of the characters of short fiction tend to vary from each other. For instance, a cultural adherence or social expectations are present in the text by Tan, as it is a reflection of the hopes of emigrants for a better future. At the same time, religious and humane aspects prevail in the story by Chopin because she describes the American settings of the nineteenth century. Therefore, various conceptions play a noteworthy role in the analysis of discovering oneself in terms of short fiction by Amy Tan and Kate Chopin.


The Story of an Hour and Two Kinds are the masterly examples of using a motif of self-revelation in the literary works. The protagonists of the stories attempt to analyze and discover their true feelings and emotions through the prism of various factors that influence this process. Among a vast number of such factors, the relationships in the characters families and diverse moral, religious, or social issues are the central implements that have a significant impact on the process of self-determination. Besides, there are also different cultural and historical peculiarities that affect the overall perception of the stories. Therefore, the two pieces of short fiction by Amy Tan and Kate Chopin are the bright examples of using the problem of self-discovery or revelation through the perspective of numerous features, such as relations with other people, social, humane, and other values.

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