What is the significance of the salted plums incident in the beginning of the story?

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The salted plum incident takes place at the beginning of the story.  It is a small incident that took place when Waverly was six years old, but Waverly learned a very valuable lesson through it.

Waverly and her mother were at a store.  When Waverly saw salted plums, she wanted...

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The salted plum incident takes place at the beginning of the story.  It is a small incident that took place when Waverly was six years old, but Waverly learned a very valuable lesson through it.

Waverly and her mother were at a store.  When Waverly saw salted plums, she wanted them.  She cried and threw a tantrum.  Waverly's mother did not give into her daughter.  She scolded her and told her to bite back her tongue.  

Mrs. Jong was teaching her daughter in a practical way, the art of invisible strength, a way to win arguments and respect from others.  She wanted her daughter to master her own emotions and desires, so that she would succeed in life.  

The next time Mrs. Jong and Waverly were at the store, Waverly did "bite back her tongue."  She did not throw a tantrum. This showed that she learned her lesson well. So, Mrs. Jong bought her the salted plums. 

 

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