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Rules of the Game

by Amy Tan

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What are two similes in "The Rules of the Game"?

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A simile in "Rules of the Game" is "I would swing my patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding on a school bus."

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Waverly is compared to a child waiting on a bus, and she compares the lights in her apartment to a tiger’s eyes.

A simile is a type of figurative language where two things are being compared.  They often use the words “like” or “as” to make the comparison.

A simile...

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creates an image for the reader, and helps establish the mood.  Consider this wonderful simile where Waverly, the chess prodigy, describes how she and her mother psych out her opponents in a chess competition.

I would swing my patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding on a school bus.

Waverly describes how every aspect of her performance and dress is designed to play up her little girl looks, from her “pink-and-white dress with scratchy lace at the neck” to her patent leather shoes.  Can you imagine being a grown man being beaten by this little girl in a pink frilly dress?  No wonder he’s sweating!  The author compares Waverly to a girl on a bus, as if she has nothing in the world to worry about but getting where she is trying to go. 

Another example of how a simile is used to create the mood is when Waverly has had a fight with her mother, and she uses a simile to describe the lights shining out of her apartment.

The alley was quiet and I could see the yellow lights shining from our flat like two tiger's eyes in the night.

In this case, she is imagining the difficulty of coming home.  She has told her mother that she does not want to be used as a trophy any more.  She does not want to be her mother’s tool.  She knows that things will be difficult between them, and she does not know what awaits her, but she knows it will be unpleasant.  This is why her imagination gets the better of her, and the author expresses this in a simile.

Figurative language can create a world of images for the reader, and really help immerse the reader in the story.  As you see, they help create the mood, and help characterize the people too.  We learned a lot about Waverly and her mother, and their relationship, from these two similes.  There are other similes in the story also!

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What are examples of similes in "Rules of the Game"?

A simile is a figure of speech which uses like or as to compare two things which are basically different. In "Rules of the Game," an excerpt from her novel The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan recounts the story of a young Chinese girl, daughter of immigrants, who becomes a chess prodigy. Throughout the narration she uses figures of speech such as metaphors, personification and similes. One example of a simile occurs when Waverly is explaining how she learned the strategies of chess after her brothers received a chess set for Christmas: "I learned about the middle game and why tactics between two adversaries are like clashing ideas; the one who plays better has the clearest plans for both attacking and getting out of traps." Here she compares the different ways of thinking which will occur between two opponents in a chess match. Another simile appears after Waverly has become embarrassed by her mother's behavior and has run away. Her anger and shame is at an intense level as she runs into a cold alley: "My breath came out like angry smoke." Often a person's breath can be seen in a cold environment and here the narrator links that smoke with the girl's anger.

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What is a simile in "Rules of the Game"?

A simile is a comparison that uses the words like or as. One simile Amy Tan uses in "Rules of the Game" is

I would swing my patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding on a school bus.

The simile above describes Waverly's behavior as she poses for photographs once she has become a national chess champion. While she poses obediently as her mother has taught her to do during her matches, outside of the frame of the picture, we see that she wants to get on with things. She wishes, like someone riding a school bus, to get to her real destination, which is winning the game. This highlights a difference with her mother, who revels in Waverly's fame.

In another simile, Waverly says,

I could see the yellow lights shining from our flat like two tiger's eyes in the night.

This describes the scene as Waverly returns home after having run away for several hours following a fight with her mother. Comparing the lights in the family apartment to tiger's eyes removes the warmth that one usually feels on seeing the lights of home. This simile underscores that home is now a place of threat for Waverly. She has upset and insulted her mother, and she goes home fearfully, waiting to be pounced on by a mother who seems to her right now like a predatory animal.

Tan uses similes sparingly in this story, but they are vivid enough to help express Waverly's emotions.

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What are some quotes from the story "Rules of the Game" that are similes?

Similes are phrases that an author uses to compare one thing to another. They're typically used to create imagery or a sense of lyricism within the writing, and they can often be identified by the author's use of like or as. This distinguishes them from metaphors, in which one concept is expressed as a direct stand-in for the other.

In "Rules of the Game," Amy Tan uses similes to evoke her vivid memories of her childhood. A subtle example appears early in the narrative:

I learned about the middle game and why tactics between two adversaries are like clashing ideas ...

Later, she explains her demeanor at the chess tournament by likening it to the way an impatient student might behave on a school bus:

I would swing my patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding on a school bus.

As the story progresses and her emotions heighten, the story's imagery becomes more violent and dramatic. The similes, too, become more aggressive. When she gets mad, she remarks,
My breath came out like angry smoke.
And then, she says later,

The alley was quiet and I could see the yellow lights shining from our flat like two tiger's eyes in the night.

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