At the beginning of the short story, Waverly's mother teaches her the art of invisible strength. Waverly's mother tells her daughter to bite her tongue because the "Strongest wind cannot be seen." The next week, Waverly watches as her mother secretly places some plums into their basket while shopping and...
At the beginning of the short story, Waverly's mother teaches her the art of invisible strength. Waverly's mother tells her daughter to bite her tongue because the "Strongest wind cannot be seen." The next week, Waverly watches as her mother secretly places some plums into their basket while shopping and leaves the store without paying for them. As a Chinese immigrant, Waverly's mother learns to remain quiet and appear timid while she secretly manipulates others into getting what she desires. Essentially, the art of invisible strength is a way to manipulate others by subtly attaining what one desires while appearing to be passive and submissive.
As Waverly begins playing chess, she uses the art of invisible strength to defeat her opponents. Many times, Waverly sacrifices various chess pieces in order to trick her opponents into making wrong moves. Waverly's subtle tactics and ability to manipulate her opponents give her an advantage during her chess matches. Waverly describes her use of invisible strength during a chess match by saying,
"Blow from the South," it murmured. "The wind leaves no trail." I saw a clear path, the traps to avoid. The crowd rustled. "Shhh! Shhh!" said the corners of the room. The wind blew stronger. "Throw sand from the East to distract him." The knight came forward ready for the sacrifice. The wind hissed, louder and louder. "Blow, blow, blow. He cannot see. He is blind now. Make him lean away from the wind so he is easier to knock down." "Check," I said, as the wind roared with laughter. The wind died down to little puffs, my own breath." (4)
While the art of invisible strength allows Waverly to become a successful chess player, she also uses to it counter her mother's oppressive nature. At the end of the novel, Waverly retires to her room and contemplates how to challenge her mother's will by saying, "I closed my eyes and pondered my next move" (6). One can assume that Waverly will remain quiet around her mother while secretly manipulating her in order to gain the freedom and independence she desires.