Rules of the Game Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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What is the relationship between Waverly  Jong and her mother in "Rules of the Game"?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Waverly has a complex relationship with her mother, Lindo Jong, who is a rather strict, rigid Chinese immigrant. Waverly's mother wants her daughter to succeed in America and teaches Waverly the important art of invisible strength to gain an advantage over others. Lindo Jong also encourages her daughter to pursue her dreams of becoming a chess champion after she discovers that Waverly is a talented chess prodigy. Lindo Jong takes her daughter to tournaments and makes sacrifices to nurture Waverly's talents. Despite her good intentions and sacrifices, Lindo Jong becomes an oppressive influence over her daughter and causes Waverly significant stress during her tournaments and training sessions.

Waverly's mother views her daughter as a source of familial pride and brags about Waverly's accomplishments in public, which embarrasses Waverly and causes her significant anxiety. Waverly and her mother then become involved in an ongoing psychological battle as Waverly desperately tries to gain autonomy and distance herself from her oppressive, authoritative mother. Towards the end of the story, Waverly offends her mother and the two characters view each other as opponents.

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Inuk Lee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The relationship between Waverly and her mother is a complex one.  Moreover, the relationship develops as the story progresses.  And finally there is no resolution. 

In the beginning of the story, Waverly is a under her mother.  Her mother navigates her life.  She also teaches her about matters such as the art of invisible strength, which is something that allows people to win arguments and win respect from others. 

As the story progresses, Waverly discovers that she has a gift to play chess.  She excels to the point of being recognized nationally.  Some even say that she might be the first female grandmaster.  This new fame and recognition makes Waverly and her mother proud. Waverly also wants to break free from her mother. There is a yearning for independence in her heart. 

The problem is that Waverly's mother does not want to let Waverly go.  For example, she loves goes to the market with Waverly and tell others that this is her daughter.  This makes Waverly feel uncomfortable. So, she runs away after a conflict. 

In the end, Waverly comes back home to a furious mother.  Both do not know what to do, and the story ends. In light of this, we can say that Waverly and her mother are redefining their relationship. 

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