When authors write, they take caution in using specific word choice to convey the most effectively, so that they can get the reader to understand a character and their situations. These words, known as diction, display a character’s feelings or mood towards an aspect of life or their surroundings. Tone cannot be conveyed without using appropriate diction, and diction is meaningless without a certain tone or connotation, much like the character Ni-kan in the short story “Two Kinds“, written by Amy Tan, who has to discover that tow halves make the whole.
In the beginning of the story, the audience can see the obvious disdain that Ni-kan now has for her mother, as she caused her to believe she had to be something she didn’t want to be. This leads into the first aspect of life: relationships in Ni-kan’s life. She expresses a bitter tone towards this. She diction like, “lamented”, “sulky”, and “someone I’m not” to convey this bitterness towards her mother. The audience can fully understand her feelings, and can feel the resentment between this pair. This diction succeeds in conveying this bitterness, which then enable the story to shift into a new tone.
As Ni-kan grows, she experiences getting older and has to go through this period of discovering who she is. This leads to the next aspect of life: self-development. She becomes very brazen in her actions, like deliberately not playing well during piano, fighting her mother on everything she has to do, and straight up arguing with her most of the story. This sets of a forthright or candid tone. Ni-kan becomes very honest with herself and attempts to become honest with her mother, trying to determine who she is or wants to be. The diction used to convey this is “I’m not her slave”, “this wasn’t China”, and “the way I am”. These pieces of diction show how she is looking at her life and attempting to move away from the expectations her mother has set out for her. She ends up just making matters worse and putting a halt on her and her mother’s relationship. Her mother just pushes her even harder. Ni-kan eventually blows up and throws everything she has been feeling in her mother’s face, some things that shouldn’t have been said. This leads into the final tone shift, when Ni-kan hs an epiphany.
After Ni-kan’s mother passes away, Ni-kan discovers something about herself that she didn’t notice in youth. This leads to the final aspect of life: maturity. As Ni-kan goes through her mother’s things, she finds some things from her childhood that changes her entire perspective. This leads her to create a reflective tone for the audience. She is looking back on her past, and realizes that the song she had to play for the piano recital actually had two halves that sounded different, but was the same song. This makes her realize that she could have been two people, the prefect one her mother wanted her to be, but also the person she wanted to be. She could be two halves of the same song. She couldn’t have been one without the other and still have been happy. The diction that conveys this best is “two halves of the same song”, “for purely sentimental reasons”, and “it was a very good piano.” These show, that as she lloks back on her past and is reflecting on it, her maturity makes her realize that she could have acted better. She could have tried to be both to create the whole person.
As everyone experiences life, they must go through these slight periods of “Who am I going to be?” Since these tones are so well conveyed with the diction used, it creates a sympathetic mood that everyone can connect with and understand. As I have gone through life, I have had to experience who I want to be, versus who others expect me to be. As everyone goes through this life battle, we come to that point in our lives, when we come to maturity, that we reflect on our lives and make these decisions. We become two halves of the same song.