Humans Set Goals not Realizing what they have the Capacity to do

Despite bringing disappointment to her mother, she continues to push and encourages Jing-Mei to believe she can still be the prodigy child she wants to be. It took her to be close to being “Perfectly Contented”, along with her perspective of being the “Pleading child” for her to understand where her mother was coming from and how to merge both halves of her cultures to be the person she’s created for herself. “”Pleading Child” was shorter but slower; “Perfectly Contented” was longer but faster.

And after I had played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song” (Tan). The message Amy Tan is trying to communicate about human condition is that one tends to set unrealistic goals rather than explore one’s self to find one’s true identity. Humans set goals not realizing what they have the capacity to do. Also believe that moving a particular country will automatically make it possible for one to achieve anything. In the case of Jing-Mei, her family migrated from China believing anything is possible for anything in American, which has some truth to it because there is opportunity for everyone.

“My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America. You could open a restaurant. You could work for the government and get good retirement. You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become rich. You could become instantly famous” (Tan). However, it doesn’t mean the opportunities will be available for everyone or will be able to magically achieve everything. Not everyone will be a prodigy in their lifetime but there will be a place for everyone, based on capabilities and abilities.

There will be workers and leaders, overachievers and underachievers but Jing-Mei’s mother’s set an unrealistic goal for her daughter and pushed her to the limit, without letting her focus on herself to find her own identity and see where she fits in the society. “I had new thoughts, willful thoughts – or rather, thoughts filled with lots of won’ts. I won’t let her change me, I promised myself. I won’t be what I’m not.” (Tan). Although, instead of exploring to find out who she is, she finds out who she isn’t and that led her journey on from there.

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