In "Rules of the Game," what useful information did Meimei's mother teach her when she was six years old? How did she learn it?
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At six years old, Meimei's mother taught her the rule of "invisible strength," or to "Bite back your tongue ... Wise guy, he not go against wind. In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind-poom!-North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen."
Wind can be one of the most destructive forces in nature, but lacks the dramatics things like rain and earthquakes have. This is what Waverly's mother wants her daughter to learn.
This idea of "invisible strength" runs throughout the story, from Waverly's mother's way of fitting into the Chinese-American community to Waverly's strength in playing chess, a game that relies on strategy, not brute force.
This is information that is extremely important for minorities and women who don't necessarily have a seat at the table in America. Instead of trying to change the system by running headfirst into it, sit back and have that invisible strength to wait for the right time to assert that strength.
When she was six years old, Meimei's mother taught her the art of invisible strength. This incredible skill would eventually propel Meimei to great success in her young life. The art of invisible strength was useful for winning arguments, earning the respect of others, and excelling in chess tournaments.
One of the first things Meimei learned was that knowledge was critical to excelling in the art of invisible strength. As she watched her brothers play chess, she came to understand the importance of learning all the rules of the game. Meimei's mother precipitated Meimei's initiation into the art of invisible strength when, in response to Meimei's questions about chess, her mom encouraged her to study the game for herself.
This led Meimei to research chess thoroughly. She concluded that few things were more crucial to success than knowing the endgame and planning for every eventuality ("a mathematical understanding of all possible moves"). Meimei learned to develop patience, foresight, and discretion ("a little knowledge withheld is a great advantage one should store for future use").
From a veteran chess player, Meimei learned an array of secret moves that could confound any adversary she would ever face:
I added new secrets. Lau Po gave me the names. The Double Attack from the East and West Shores. Throwing Stones on the Drowning Man. The Sudden Meeting of the Clan. The Surprise from the Sleeping Guard. The Humble Servant Who Kills the King. Sand in the Eyes of Advancing Forces. A Double Killing Without Blood.
Meimei's success in wielding the art of invisible strength led her to become a national chess champion by her ninth birthday. It also led her to realize that the skills she worked so hard to acquire would prove equally useful in the realm of personal relationships. After an especially charged conflict with her mother, Meimei realized that she had to withdraw inwardly to plan her next moves. If she wanted to protect her need for personal agency, she had to wield the skills her Chinese mother taught her. As in chess, superior forces could only be defeated through careful planning, knowledge, and patience.
Meimei acquired useful life skills from applying the principles she learned from both her mother and Lau Po. With each victory, Meimei increasingly came to understand the power of having such knowledge in her life.
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