In "Rules of the Game," how does MeiMei trick her Mother into letting her play in her first chess tournament? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the beginning of the story, Waverly's mother teaches her the art of invisible strength, which is a method of manipulating people using silence, humility, and presumed obedience in order to attain something. After her brother receives a used chess set from a local church during a Christmas giveaway, Waverly becomes fascinated with the game and develops into a talented chess player. She spends the majority of her leisure time playing chess and even competes against the old men at the local park. Waverly is grateful for Lau Po's lessons and dramatically improves her chess skills. Waverly also begins attracting attention from her neighbors, and crowds gather to watch her defeat significantly older opponents.

After a local man suggests that Waverly sign up to play in a local chess tournament, her mother simply smiles graciously, which means nothing. Waverly then utilizes that art of invisible strength and reverse psychology to sway her mother's decision and enroll in a local tournament. Waverly bites her tongue and tells her mother that she does not want to participate in the local tournament because they would have American rules. Waverly also says, in a small voice that if she were to lose, she would bring shame to her family. Waverly's method works, and her mother allows her to play in the tournament by saying, "Is shame you fall down nobody push you" (Tan, 4).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a good question.  Waverly is an apt pupil from the beginning of the story. She learns from her mother the art of invisible strength.  So, when a person at the park suggests that she play in a tournament, she knows that she should not express interest right away, even though she wants to play.

 She knows that her mother would oppose her playing in a tournament.  So, Waverly uses reverse psychology. On her way home, she says to her mother that she does not want to play in a tournament, because she would probably lose and bring shame on her family. Here is the text:

So as we walked home I said in a small voice that I didn't want to play in the local tournament. They would have American rules. If I lost, I would bring shame on my family. "Is shame you fall down nobody push you," said my mother.

Waverly succeeds in saying the right things and pushing the right buttons. Her mother allows her to play chess. An apt pupil Waverly really is. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial