What does the symbol "wind" mean in the story "Rules of the Game" by Amy Tan?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The wind in "The Rules of the Game" symbolizes cunning and strategy.  In the beginning of the story, Waverly's mother teaches her the art of invisible strength. This art is defined as a way to win arguments and gain the respect of people. Within this context, Waverly's mother also says that the strongest wind cannot be seen. She states:

In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind-poom!-North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen."

As one can see, there is an emphasis on invisibility. To put it another way, the art of invisible strength, which Mrs. Jong teaches, and the wind both cannot be seen.  In this way, Mrs. Jong is trying to teach Waverly to be wise and cunning.  For example, it is not bad to appear weak at times.  In fact, this can be a great asset, if it this weakness is feigned and followed by strength. 

Waverly proves to be an apt pupil, especially in the area of chess.  In one of her first tournaments, she states that the wind taught her secrets.  The wind taught her to avoid traps and presumably to set them to win.  I will quote this section of the story in length.

A light wind began blowing past my ears. It whispered secrets only I could hear.

"Blow from the South," it murmured. "The wind leaves no trail." I saw a clear path, the traps to avoid...The wind blew stronger. "Throw sand from the East to distract him." The knight came forward ready for the sacrifice. The wind hissed, louder and louder. "Blow, blow, blow. He cannot see. He is blind now. Make him lean away from the wind so he is easier to knock down." 

"Check," I said, as the wind roared with laughter.

Finally, the notion of the wind appear at the end of the story, when Waverly and her mother are in conflict.  Waverly knows that her mother's wind cannot be seen.  So, she fears and contemplates her next move.