Select two paragraphs from the story "Rules of the Game" by Amy Tan and explain the significant and relevancy.

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's try the first two, which, in a short story, usually provide a window onto all that follows. The first paragraph is significant because it introduces the important theme of “invisible strength”—calling it an “art,” as well as the mother, who operates as the narrator’s antagonist, and the game of chess, which is the center of the plot but also the dominant symbol in that it represents the game of life, which the narrator, in her struggle for identity, understands as combative in relation to her mother. The second paragraph is important in four ways: through speech and story-telling, it characterizes the mother as Chinese, giving her daughter rules in terms of Chinese proverbs by which she must behave in order to succeed; second, “salted plums” is a specific detail that shows us an aspect of culture of this family, that they do not eat like a typical American family, thus emphasizing their marginality in American culture; third, the mother “scolding” and “yanking” characterizes the mother as dominant and perhaps, from the child’s point of view, a bully; and fourth, “strongest wind cannot be seen” elaborates on “invisible strength,” suggesting it is a natural force that, as “wind,” it cannot be seen, cannot be controlled yet can devastate what is in its path.  This is the lesson the mother wants her daughter to learn.

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Rules of the Game

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