Rules of the Game Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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At the end, Waverly imagines a game of chess which her mother is her opponent.   Explain how this imaginary game reflects her life.

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The ending game between Waverly and her mother is significant for a couple of reasons.  The first would be that Waverly's mother crushes Waverly. This helps to explain how the mother holds power over her daughter.  Interestingly enough, Waverly tries to assert power over her mother in rebuking her, criticizing her in public.  Yet, when Waverly realizes what she has done, it is a moment in which power has settled with the mother.  Waverly realizes that the chess game with her mother represents her losing of power with her mother.  When Waverly recognizes that the chess game at the end of the story is one in which she loses, it is significant because it reflects the basic element of how power is constructed between mothers and daughters in the "Eastern" sensibilities.  The chess game is reflective of how there is going to be a "muddle" in the relationships between mothers and daughters when the weight of cultural expectations is placed upon the younger generations from the older ones.  There is an emotional weight that creates a challenging paradigm for children.  Speaking one's voice is seen as a form of disrespect, but yet remaining silent is one in which voice and personal choice is absent.  In this, the chess game at the end of the story becomes significant.

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