Why did Waverly tell her mother she did not want to play in any tournament, even though she did?
This is a great question. In order to understand Waverly's paradoxical comment, we need some background information.
In the beginning of the story, Waverly wanted salted plums at the market. She threw a tantrum and her mother scolded her. Her mother also said: "bite back your tongue." Her mother was teaching her the art of invisible strength. She was teaching her to master her desires. The next time, the two were at the market, Waverly controlled herself, and her mother bought her the plums.
This background will help us understand Waverly's behavior. When someone suggested that she should enter tournaments, Waverly knew that her mother would not allow her. So, she used reverse psychology. To put it another way, Waverly used the art of invisible strength. In particular, she did not divulge her desires and bit back her tongue. Instead she appealed to her mother's pride. She played it perfectly. The upshot is that her mother allowed her to enter tournaments. Here is the text:
She desperately wanted to go, but I bit back my tongue. I knew she would not let me play among strangers. So as we walked home I said in a small voice that I didn't want to play in the local tournament. They would have American rules. If I lost, I would bring shame on my family. "Is shame you fall down nobody push you," said my mother.