What motivation does the mother have for allowing MeiMei to get out of doing chores in "Rules of the Game"? Is the mother justified by making MeiMei's brothers do the chores instead?

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Waverly gets out of her chores because she is practicing for chess tournaments and her mother takes a lot of pride in her success.

There’s a difference between feeling pride and showing it.  Waverly (called Meimei, meaning little sister) says that it is against the Chinese culture to be proud,...

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Waverly gets out of her chores because she is practicing for chess tournaments and her mother takes a lot of pride in her success.

There’s a difference between feeling pride and showing it.  Waverly (called Meimei, meaning little sister) says that it is against the Chinese culture to be proud, but her mother likes to show off her chess ability.  Their status in the community is greatly increased by Waverly’s amazing chess success.

Waverly and her brothers got a used chess set from a charity for Christmas, and it fascinated Waverly.  She practices and plays harder and harder opponents, eventually entering in tournaments.  She becomes quite the neighborhood celebrity.

I attended more tournaments, each one farther away from home. I won all games, in all divisions. The Chinese bakery downstairs from our flat displayed my growing collection of trophies in its window, amidst the dustcovered cakes that were never picked up.

As Waverly gets better and better at chess, her mother begins to let her focus on it.  When local businesses start sponsoring her in national tournaments, Waverly’s mother decides that her brothers should do her chores for her so she can concentrate on chess.  Her brothers are not happy with this new arrangement.

"Why does she get to play and we do all the work," complained Vincent.

"Is new American rules," said my mother. "Meimei play, squeeze all her brains out for win chess. You play, worth squeeze towel."

Waverly’s mother is impressed with her dedication and achievements, but always pushes her.  No matter what Waverly does, it is never enough.  Her mother wants more and more.  She believes that you get soft if you don’t keep pushing yourself.

Waverly eventually gets sick of her mother’s attention and yells at her for showing her off all of the time.  This opens a great schism between her and her mother that is very difficult to close.  In her own way, her mother was doing what she thought was right, and was trying to show her daughter support.

There probably is not that much value to focusing on chess instead of chores, unless the chores take up a lot of time.  In making Waverly’s brothers do her chores, her mother might have inspired resentment.  However, this was also a way to reinforce the value of hard work.  It sent a message to Waverly’s brothers that you get special considerations when you are the best at something.

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