A parent’s love can be described as a double-edged sword, having the power to both defend and destroy a child. Explain how this is true in the case of Waverly’s mother.

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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A parent’s love can both defend and destroy a child.  In “Rules of the Game,” Waverly Jong’s mother is a good example of this.  Waverly’s mother is very interested in and concerned about her daughter.  One way she shows this is in the way she teaches her to get along in America.  When Waverly receives the Christmas gift in the story, Waverly says, “My mother graciously thanked the unknown benefactor, saying, "Too good. Cost too much.”  Waverly’s mother knows that she must appear gracious about the gift, despite the fact that when she returns home, she is upset and tells the children to throw the chess set away. “ ‘She not want it. We not want it.’ she said, tossing her head stiffly to the side with a tight, proud smile.”  In this instance, Waverly’s mother shows her that she must accept the gift because it is the right thing to do, but she also demonstrates that pride is destructive.

If the children had listened to their mother about the chess set, Waverly would have never learned to play chess.  She would not have become an outstanding chess player, and she would not have learned the lessons she needed to learn in life.  Waverly wants to assimilate and become a member of American society, and her mother’s love is both helpful and an obstacle to her.  While her mother is a staunch supporter and very proud of her daughter, “At the next tournament, I won again, but it was my mother who wore the triumphant grin.”  On the other hand, she constantly hovers over her daughter and refuses to allow her to be independent.  Even though she knows nothing about chess, she insists on telling her daughter what to do.  In the end, this results in a war of wills between Waverly and her mother.  Waverly’s mother wins the battle, but it affects their relationship.  “ ‘She wore a triumphant smile. ‘Strongest wind cannot be seen,’ she said.”  The destructive nature of her mother’s love means Waverly only wants to be away from her.

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Rules of the Game

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