Explanatory synthesis essay example

The two essays under consideration, Amy Chua's "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior" and Amy Tan's "Two Kinds", are devoted to specific Chinese style of child upbringing. There are many similarities between both families that are described in the essays; at the same time, there is a number of differences that make each story a unique one. This paper concentrates on synthesis of the ideas on Chinese mothers' upbringing styles on the examples of families described in the two essays under consideration.

Having read the two stories under consideration, it is possible to outline the major parallels that reflect similarities between the behaviors of mothers. Both parents trained their children because they wanted to find out an outstanding talent in them: "She would present new tests, taking her examples from stories of amazing children that she read" (Tan); "The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A" (Chua). In both stories the children were forced to learn to play a musical instrument whatever the cost: "my mother had traded housecleaning services for weekly lessons and a piano for me to practice on every day, two hours a day, from four until six" (Tan); "We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over" (Chua). In both cases it is evident that parents did not account for children's own inclinations and desires: "I daydreamed about being somewhere else, about being someone else" (Tan); "the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future" (Chua). Mothers in both texts showed that they were ready to do everything for their children, to educate them at any cost: "my parents had saved up enough to buy me a secondhand piano" (Tan); "They would give up anything for their children" (Chua).


At first sight, Chinese mothers' superiority comes to the foreground in both stories. However, in fact, each family has unique educational methods. Amy Tan's mother shows to be very persistent in trying to teach her daughter to become a genius. She systematically fills Amy's head with information from all the spheres of knowledge that she can find, from geography to music, without trying to reveal Amy's inclinations and preferences. Even being in financial hardship, Amy's mother tried to give her daughter everything she could; she even found possibility for Amy to learn to play the piano in exchange of doing the housework in her teacher's house. However, surprisingly, after Amy's fiasco at a concert, her mother did not shout at her but persistently reminded about the piano lessons. After a scandal that Amy made because she did not want to play the piano any more, when she offended her mother in a very personal way, by reminding her about the two dead children, the Chinese lady gave up all the hopes about Amy's playing. This fact is rather unusual about this story because it meant that the mother finally heard her daughters' desires and obeyed. In other words, the mother gave up her attempts to educate her daughter. Amy herself also gave up and further she regretted about that but it was too late. In the struggle of two characters Amy's one won.

In Amy Chua's family, superiority of her mother is the red thread of the story. She builds her argument on comparison between Chinese and Western parents. Amy highlights the strictness of her mother that was revealed in making her drill all the lessons, play the piano, and do everything that ensures being the best in all the spheres and getting only the highest grades. For this, a continuous circle of repetitions and practical tasks was used by her mother. At the same time, they are children who are to blame for low grades but not teachers. Amy states that Chinese mothers can freely offend their children by using rude language without paying attention to a child's self-esteem and psyche. This happens because Chinese parents are convinced that their children "owe them everything" and know what is best for them (Chua). Surprisingly, the author claims that such an attitude towards children is a form of taking care of them and sacrificing everything. In this regard, the author explains, the difference from the Western world lies merely in the parenting style.

In the two stories under consideration, the role of Chinese mothers in education of their children is depicted. Amy Tan describes her life through the prism of her relationship with mother in order to reveal the behavior of the latter one. Amy Chua concentrates on comparison between the two parenting styles, the Western one and the Chinese one. In fact, both stories have many similarities, in particular, where it concerns drilling of lessons, demand to get the highest grades, authoritarian approach to parenting, etc. However, after reading of the two articles there is not any feeling that Amys hate their mothers for behaving in such a way. On the contrary, they understand that mothers acted out of their best intentions to prepare their children for all the difficulties of life. Perhaps, for a person raised by Western parents, it is impossible to agree with such a point of view; but those raised in Chinese families adopt this parenting style as it is because they do not have anything to compare with. One striking example of the consequences of such an approach was a Chinese young woman's committing suicide in her 30s despite having a seemingly ideal life with family, work, and financial wellbeing. Importantly, Amy Chua's essay provoked many discussions. Some readers criticized it for being far from reality, others agreed with it and provided their own examples. In fact, such a strict approach to parenting is dictated by culturally-predetermined differences.

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