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Rules of the Game

by Amy Tan

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What are three metaphors in "Rules of the Game"?

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A metaphor is a type of figurative language where two unlike things are compared by saying that one is the other.  Metaphors are used by authors to add color to the story and to better help the reader understand what the author is trying to say.

"Strongest wind cannot be...

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Waverly’s mother tries to teach her the value of being quiet and strong to get what you want.  She teaches her this lesson by not buying her treats when she asks for them, but only when she is quiet in the store. 

"Bite back your tongue," scolded my mother when I cried loudly, yanking her hand toward the store that sold bags of salted plums. At home, she said, "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."

It is a lesson that also applies to chess.  Waverly’s mother tries to help her psych out her opponents by being quiet and studying their moves.

"I bit back my tongue"

Another example of a metaphor is a common idiom, or figure of speech.  An idiom is a common expression used by many people.

The next week I bit back my tongue as we entered the store with the forbidden candies.

To say that you bite your tongue means that you do not say anything.  The image is of biting your tongue so that you won’t talk.  This phrase is related to the metaphor above.  Waverly bit her tongue by not asking for treats.

"The alley was crammed with adventures"

Another example of a metaphor is used to describe the fun that Waverly and her siblings have playing in the alley by their apartment.

The best playground, however, was the dark alley itself. It was crammed with daily mysteries and adventures.

Of course “mysteries and adventures” are not actual things, and so they cannot cram the alleyway.  What Waverly means is that they had a lot of fun in the alley because there were interesting shops around it. The alley was fun to play in.

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