The short story, “The Rules of the Game ,” is more than a story about chess. Right from the beginning, this point is clearly communicated when Waverly says that her mother taught her the art of invisible strength. She then employs this art in chess, and she begins to win....
The short story, “The Rules of the Game,” is more than a story about chess. Right from the beginning, this point is clearly communicated when Waverly says that her mother taught her the art of invisible strength. She then employs this art in chess, and she begins to win. She says,
I was six when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength. It was a strategy for winning arguments, respect from others, and eventually, though neither of us knew it at the time, chess games.
As the story progresses, there are two main conflicts. First, there is the conflict between mother and daughter. Waverly is growing up. Second, there is also the conflict between cultures. I would say that the second conflict is the greater one because this cultural conflict exacerbates the conflict between her and her mother.
Waverly is a Chinese immigrant who is navigating her life in America. Her mother represents China and the “old world” with its values. This is in contrast to Waverly’s life in America. Chess is an example of this aspect of her life. For example, she received this game at a church Christmas party, something very American.
In the end, Waverly does not like how her mother uses her to show off. She says,
“Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don't you learn to play chess?”
Waverly does not know often parents live vicariously through their children. She also does not know that a child’s success is a badge of honor for parents. This Asian collective culture is something that she is trying to break free from. Chess may be an example of this point because chess is so individualistic.
Through these conflicts, Waverly learns that if she is going to break from one culture and embrace something new, she will have to face her mother, who is a towering figure. She represents a culture of solidarity and tradition. She will need the all the invisible strength she can muster.