Literature Analysis, Popular Analysis

Rules of the Game Amy Tan

The Rules of the Game Amy Tan is a short story written by an American writer with Chinese roots. The story’s conflict is centered between daughter and mother and their attitudes and points of view towards the Chinese and American cultures.

Rules of The Game Summary

The narrator of the story is a little girl named Waverly Place Jong after the street her family lives on. Her family calls her Meimei that means “Little sister”. The events are viewed through her perception followed by her childlike descriptions and grown-up thoughts. The other important characters of the story are her mother Lindo Jong, her two brothers Winston and Vincent.

Rules of the Game Analysis

The author’s attitude towards the characters can be seen through the description of their actions and short dialogues, also thanks to Waverly’s comments and think. In my opinion, the author has positive feelings towards Meimei and negative towards Lindo Jong. Meimei is shown in the story as a little girl, who is Chinese lives in the USA, trying to find a balance between two cultures and make her way through by playing chess and gaining popularity. Her mother is an experienced and wise woman, who appreciates her native culture greatly. She teaches Meimei “the art of invisible strength”, namely – “a strategy for winning arguments, respect from others” (Tan). Lindo gives her daughter practical pieces of advice: “Wise guy, he not go against wind.”, “Strongest wind cannot be seen.”, “Don’t know why, you find out yourself.”, “Is shame you fall down nobody push you” (Tan). The mother shows her pride in the culture by a constant judgment of the American one. Every morning she makes her daughter “two tightly wound pigtails”. Lindo does not like “American rules” and Americans; she says: “Chinese many things.”, “Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture” (Tan). Being controversial, she still named her daughter after an American street just “for important American documents” (Tan).

What is the main conflict in “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan?

The conflict arises when Waverly cannot understand why her mother shows off in front of the people by her own achievements. The mother’s actions can be justified by Chinese tradition to imply the success of any family member to the whole family. Without giving any explanations to Meimei, she calls her a stupid girl and continues practicing her “silent treatment”. Lindo says to the whole family at the dinner table: “We not concerning this girl. This girl not have concerning for us.” (Tan, 5) To my mind, Waverly leans more on the American culture, as she spends every day in school communicating with American people. A little child is like a sponge – absorbs everything he sees around and hears. Lindo’s judgmental expressions towards the USA traditions may only kindle the interest in them. All in all, their whole family is American now – that is why Meimei, after winning some tournaments, is called “the Great American Hope” (Tan). Lindo does not understand how it is difficult for a child to do bounce between two traditions. Meimei cannot even decide how old is she: “I was seven according to the American formula and eight by the Chinese calendar” (Tan).

The main symbol found in the story (Amy Tan Rules of the Game) is a chess set. Black and white figures represent two cultures – Chinese and American accordingly. Meimei is compared to the pawn. She wonders: “Why can’t they move more steps?” (Tan) – as she also does not want to be measured by the rules her mother imposes on her. In her dream at the end of the story, Meimei plays with white and her mother with black. They have a battle and Lindo seems to win, pushing Waverly off the board. But Meimei rises up into the air and is ready to fight planning her next move. Rules of the Game book is worth reading.

Rules of the Game Amy Tan Questions

-What is the invisible strength in Rules of the Game?
Invisible strength is the ability to win arguments and win respect from people you meet.

-When did Amy Tan write Rules of the Game?
Amy Tan wrote the story “Rules of the Game” in 1985 which became the foundation for her novel The Joy Luck Club in 1989.

– What does the wind symbolize in Rules of the Game?
Wind in The Rules of the Game symbolizes cunning. Cunning from Old Norse kunnandi means ‘knowledge.’ So, Waverly’s mother in the story teaches her how to have an invisible strength and way of how to win arguments and gain respect.

Find Rules of the Game pdf here.