How does Waverly's mother respond to Waverly's admirers in the park in "Rules of the Game?"

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Waverly’s mother told her admirers in the park that her winning was luck.

Waverly was thrilled when her family got a chess set for Christmas from a charity.  At first her mother did not want it.  It was a waste of time, and it was obviously used, since some of the pieces were missing.  They didn’t even really know how to play.  Waverly was fascinated though, and she soon became very, very good.

One day, Waverly stops by the park where a group of old men are playing chess.  She meets a man named Lau Po who teaches her more about chess, and she picks up “new secrets.”  She also learns about chess etiquette and how to not be a sore loser.  He teaches her all he knows.  Eventually, she is winning every game.

It does not take long before she has gathered a crowd of onlookers in the park to watch her play.

       A small weekend crowd of Chinese people and tourists would gather as I played and defeated my opponents one by one. My mother would join the crowds during these outdoor exhibition games. She sat proudly on the bench, telling my admirers with proper Chinese humility, "Is luck."

Although this may seem cruel, it is her mother’s strategy.  She does not want her daughter to get a big head.  Waverly does say her mother is proud.  It is, as Waverly says, "proper" to say that winning is luck, to show she is humble.  You do not be too proud.  You are expected to win. 

Her mother always wants more and more from her.  She wants fewer pieces lost when she does win.  Her mother agrees to put her in a tournament, even though if she loses, it will bring shame to her family.  Waverly wants to compete in that tournament.  She is enjoying chess, and she needs a bigger challenge.

The fact that Waverly's mother tells her admirers that her daughter's winning is nothing but luck does not mean she believes that, or that she does not believe that her daughter is talented.  She is behaving the way she is expected to, and saying what they expect her to say.  She is also trying to teach her daughter how to behave properly, with humility, and remind her that there is always more winning ahead.

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