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A Pair of Tickets

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A Pair of Tickets

“A Pair of Tickets”

Amy Tan’s classic short story, “A Pair of Tickets”, is a coming of age story as the protagonist wakes up to her heritage when she travels to her native land, but it is also a story of internal racial tension. Not in the sense of one class looking down on another but of the internal racial tension that rages on inside Jing-mei as the battle between what she is by birth and what she is by nature tears her apart when she suddenly discovers her long lost sisters just a month after her mother dies.

In “A Pair of Tickets” the protagonist, Jing-mei, receives a letter from her long lost twin sisters. The sisters are hoping to reunite with their mother but unfortunately Jing-mei’s mother had died briefly before. After receiving this devastating news Jing-mei wages a war within herself. Should she write the twins back telling them of their mothers death or should she go in person? It is at this point that the story’s central theme is first unearthed. On the outside it appears that Jing-mei does not want to go in person because she does not want to see the twin’s grief in person. The underlying reason for her not wanting to go is much different however. Jing-mei is afraid of her heritage. All her life she has denied everything Chinese that is in her, Americanizing herself as much as possible. Now with a possible trip to China looming in front of her, Jing-mei is ashamed of going to the homeland she has denied all along (Kimble 2). At last, at the urging of her aunt, Jing-mei decides making the trip is the right thing to do.

During the trip to China and while she spends time with her relatives Jing-mei begins to reflect on the Chinese side of her life. All her life she had fought her inner Chinese. She had lived her life as an American never wanting to acknowledge her lineage. But the death of her mother along with the impending reunion with her sisters forces Jing-mei to finally examine herself (Jokinon 2). These two events are very important together for the death of her mother alone did not force Jing-mei to change. Even though her mother was the one who had always tried to change Jing-mei is the trip to China that really hits Jing-mei hard. She goes from her safe American life to being suddenly immersed in the Chinese culture. Another key event in the awakening of Jing-mei is when her father tells her the story of her mother and why she had to leave the twins. Jing-mei’s mother had sacrificed so much and yet could still not save the twins. This touches Jing-mei deeply and she realizes what a miracle it is that the twins have managed to find her. The combination of these events is what makes Jing-mei realize that is her obligation to search out her Chinese half as a tribute to her mother. What she finds is a beautiful side of her that she never knew existed because she had blocked it out. After Jing-mei finally meets her sister face to face has an epiphany. “It is so obvious. It is my family. After all these years it can finally be let go” (Tan 134). Jing-mei’s work and her school and all the events in between were always her, American. But her family, heritage, has always been

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