What's the internal and external conflict between Waverly and her mother in "Rules of the Game"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This story is really one big struggle for independence between Waverly and her mother. Waverly, as the story progresses and she becomes more aware of her talent, shows embarrassment at the way her mother takes pride in her and wants to exploit her gift and talent to bring attention to her:

My mother would proudly walk with me, visiting many shops, buying very little. "This is my daughter Wave-ly Jong," she said to whoever looked her way.

One day, after we left a shop I said under my breath, "I wish you wouldn't do that, telling everybody I'm your daughter."

While the narrator enjoys the challenge of winning at chess for its own sake, clearly the mother enjoys the success of her daughter for the admiration it brings to her.

At the end, the imagery of the chess board in Waverly's dream is used to symbolise the conflict between Waverly and her mother, as each struggles for mastery over the other. The way that the story ends, with Waverly closing her eyes and "pondering my next move," indicates Waverly's desire to escape her mother and treats her conflict as a game of chess. Although Waverly has lost this round, she is considering how to eventually beat her mother and gain the independence she so desperately desires.

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