The same was true with word analogies, pairs of words in which you were supposed to find some sort of logical, semantic relationship -- for example, "Sunset is to nightfall as is to ." And here you would be presented with a list of four possible pairs, one of which showed the same kind of relationship: red is to stoplight, bus is to arrival, chills is to fever, yawn is to boring: Well, I could never think that way. I knew what the tests were asking, but I could not block out of my mind the images already created by the first pair, "sunset is to nightfall"--and I would see a burst of colors against a darkening sky, the moon rising, the lowering of a curtain of stars. And all the other pairs of words --red, bus, stoplight, boring--just threw up a mass of confusing images, making it impossible for me to sort out something as logical as saying: "A sunset precedes nightfall" is the same as "a chill precedes a fever." The only way I would have gotten that answer right would have been to imagine an associative situation, for example, my being disobedient and staying out past sunset, catching a chill at night, which turns into feverish pneumonia as punishment, which indeed did happen to me.
Abandonment is not only a symbol for a mother-daughter crisis, however, in Tan’s work. It has real historical value. Jing-mei’s mother had two other daughters whom she had to abandon in Kweilin, China, during the Chinese Revolution. Set against that event, the mother-daughter tangle that comprises “Two Kinds” is intensified. The constant threat of abandonment remains intrinsic to the mother-daughter bond. According to prevailing psychoanalytic views, a daughter’s growing sense of identity, of difference from the mother, hinges on that exact threat. Neither Jing-mei nor her mother can get over such actual losses. Tan also presents this story as a reminder that the bond between mother and daughter transcends time, has a forever meaning. The identification of both characters with each other via the concept of abandonment further fuses them together, making their imminent separation even more harsh.