At the beginning of the short story, Waverly mentions that her mother taught her the art of invisible strength, which is a strategy for winning arguments and respect from others. When Waverly was a child, she recalls, she cried in the store because she could not have a bag of salted plums. When Waverly cried aloud, her mother scolded her and told her to bite her tongue. That night, Waverly's mother told her,
Wise guy, he not go against wind. In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind-poom!—North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen (Tan, 1).
The next day, Waverly's mother entered the store and secretly stole a bag of salted plums without paying for them. Waverly's mother is a Chinese immigrant, who learns to remain quiet and subtly manipulate others until she can attain what she desires. Her lesson regarding the art of invisible strength teaches Waverly the importance of appearing timid and quiet while plotting secretly to gain whatever she desires. Later on in life, Waverly uses the art of invisible strength to trick and manipulate her chess opponents into making wrong moves, which she capitalizes on to win matches.
In the beginning of the story, Waverly cries to get a bag of salted plums. Her mother does not give in to her plea as a dotting parent. She does not buy the plums for her. Instead, she scolds her, and she says that Waverly should bite back her tongue. This incident takes place right after Mrs. Jong tries to teach her daughter the art of invisible strength.
In light of this close connection, it seems that Mrs. Jong was trying to teach her daughter to control herself and her emotions. If she could do that, she will have strength to succeed in life. Here is the quote:
"Bite back your tongue," scolded my mother when I cried loudly, yanking her hand toward the store that sold bags of salted plums. At home, she said, "Wise guy, he not go against wind. In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind-poom!-North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen."
The next time Waverly and her mother are at the store, Waverly shows that she learned her lesson well. She did not cry or throw a tantrum. This showed Mrs. Jong that her daughter matured. In light of this, she bought her the salted plums.
When my mother finished her shopping, she quietly plucked a small bag of plums from the rack and put it on the counter with the rest of the items