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Rules of the Game by Amy Tan Analysis

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In “Rules of the Game” Amy Tan helps to understand that when trying to obtain independence, patience to experience growth can hinder any obstructions from stalling this sought-after element of growing up.

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By the end of the story, Waverly recognizes that she “had nowhere to go” and “was not running away from anything,”(507). She didn’t have an “escape route”(507) and therefore possessed no strategy in winning this fight against her mother. Waverly realizes that she cannot escape because she is running from her life and is not organized enough to leave it all behind. She needs to grow up and formulate a purpose in which can take her where she wants to go independently. Perrine states that “the developing character...undergoes some distinct change of character, personality or outlook”(107). In “Rules of the Game” Amy Tan shows how Waverly, as a growing character, has learned to be patient when finding a solution to a problem. In addition to this Perrine also states that “symbols nearly always signal their existence by emphasis,”(222). Tan displays this in the way of the escape route which refers back to chess, a prominent symbol throughout the story. In chess, a strategy is needed when in any particular predicament. However, chess is an independent sport indicating Waverly’s need to sustain herself. She doesn’t have a strategy yet to become autonomous and has accepted that if she goes on this path without a plan her initial loss will not be worth the end result. When Waverly states “opposite me was my opponent, two angry black slits. She wore a triumphant smile” she realizes she has lost and finally understands her mother’s purpose for keeping her close, “ The strongest wind cannot be seen”(508). Her biggest but most important obstacle transpired to be her mother. Currently, her mother is always there to guide her but she must learn to stand strong and defend herself. Perrine states that, “Symbols nearly always signal their existence by emphasis”(222). Amy shows repetition with the phrase “ The strongest wind cannot be seen,” signifying its importance as a symbol. This phrase relates to ways in which Waverly learns to win arguments but also becoming independent. Waverly must be patient to grow up beyond her mother as well as conceive not until then will she win the struggle for her independence.

Finally, “I closed my eyes and pondered my next move,”(508) which demonstrates how much she has grown. Waverly has accepted her fate, knowing her lose, and is content with the realization she will probably lose again. Being so used to winning she needs to learn that to grow is to lose and learn. However, she has been given a new purpose for finding a solution as she has so many times before, yet this time it is not about winning a chess game but about gaining independence. According to Perrine, “the meaning of a literary symbol must be established and supported by the entire context of the story”(222). Amy Tan represents this by using chess to show how growing up and learning about oneself can be compared to learning the rules of chess. Waverly concludes she must be patient to find the most beneficial solution possible.

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Rules of the Game by Amy Tan Analysis. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Rules of the Game by Amy Tan Analysis.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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Rules of the Game by Amy Tan Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from:
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