How is Meimei's relationship with her mother like a game of chess? 

How is Meimei's relationship with her mother like a game of chess?


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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many interesting similarities between chess and real life in “Rules of the Game.” In chess, the white piece always moves first. Symbolically, this could represent the idea in "Rules of the Game" that Chinese culture is considered inferior to the white culture. The Christmas party scene, in which Meimei’s family is given the used chess set but cannot complain, is a good example of this. In chess, the queen is the most powerful piece and can move in any direction as long as it represents a straight line. In the story, she is represented by Meimei’s mother, who has all the power. Meimei, then, is the pawn. In chess, a pawn can only move forward one square at a time, not backwards, and the pawn can only capture diagonally. This is akin to Meimei, who is controlled by her mother and only has a limited number of moves available to her.

Interestingly, a pawn in chess, if it reaches the other side of the board, can be promoted to any other piece, and often a pawn is promoted to queen. This reflects the idea in the story that Meimei, once she becomes a chess champion, believes she has power over everyone in the family. She feels equal to her mother. In the end, however, Meimei chooses to make a move a pawn cannot make by choosing the power play of disrespecting her mother and running away. Her mother, who the family considers the most powerful member of the family, wins by forcing the family to ignore Meimei when she comes home. Meimei may have had the advantage of understanding the “white” world and making the first move, but in the end, her mother, the black queen, won the game.

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Rules of the Game

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