Jing-Mei says this of her cousin Waverly:
We had grown up together and shared all the closeness of two sisters, squabbling over crayons and dolls. In other words, for the most part, we hated each other. I thought she was snotty. Waverly Jong had gained a certain amount of fame as "Chinatown's Littlest Chinese Chess Champion." "She bring home too many trophy." Auntie Lindo lamented that Sunday. "All day she play chess. All day I have no time do nothing but dust off her winnings."
Waverly represents the Asian dream of success in America, the dream that states you can excel and be whatever you want to be. Jing-Mei knows her mother wants her to have that kind of competitive success at music and so rebels. She wants to be her own person, not what her mother wants to mold her into.
Jing-Mei plays the wrong notes and has a terrible piano recital at a talent show. She then fights bitterly with her mother over continuing practicing the piano. Her mother says she must be an "obedient" child but Jing-Mei goes her own way. Waverly, at least as presented in this story, fulfills the role of the obedient child and feels superior to Jing-Mei for doing so. Waverly represents the obedience that wars internally with Jing-Mei's more free spirited personality.