In "Rules of the Game" by Amy Tan, why does Waverly's mother graciously give thanks for the chess set and say, "Too good. Cost too much"? Does she mean it?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Waverly's mother displays traditional Chinese pride, graciousness and obfuscation in her offer of gratitude for the chess set that Vincent gets at the Christmas party held at the First Chinese Baptist Church. Waverly's mother preaches that silence is often the best conduct and by saying that the chess set "cost too much," she was actually concealing her real feelings. When the children get the set home she tells them to throw it out. The set has been used and some of the pieces are missing. In a display of pride, Waverly's mother says, "She not want it. We not want it." To accept charity was well beneath the old Chinese ethics.

In a display of defiance toward their mother's Chinese mentality, the children keep the chess set. Ultimately, chess becomes a symbol of the clash between the culture of the mother who grew up in China and Waverly, who becomes rapidly Americanized. Waverly achieves personal success, not particularly important in Chinese culture, as she masters the game. This mastery sets her apart from the Chinese community and its values. Chess separates Waverly from not only her culture but also her family as, after beating her brothers, her behavior moves her further away from them. Throughout the rest of Joy Luck Club, from which "Rules of the Game" is an excerpt, there are more cultural conflicts between Waverly and her mother.   

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Rules of the Game

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