The Chessboard in "The Rules of the Game" Book Review by Nicky

An analysis of the message in the metaphor of the chessboard in Amy Tan's "The Rules of the Game".
# 149996 | 862 words | 0 sources | 2012 | US
Published on Jan 17, 2012 in Asian Studies (Asian American) , Literature (American)

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The paper discusses how Amy Tan's story "The Rules of the Game" offers readers the metaphor of a chessboard, a metaphor in which black--the opposition--stands for the old world of Waverly's mother and white, --the offensive team--stands for the progressive ways of America. The paper shows how Waverly sees her Chinese and American cultures in conflict like the conflict on a chess board, and she tends to side with her American side, the side her mother is not on. However, the paper also looks at how Tan emphasizes both the positive and negative characteristics of Waverly's mother in harmony with one another and how Waverly ultimately sees the chessboard as a display of the perfect harmony between positive and negative and American and Chinese culture.

From the Paper:

"From the first opening paragraphs of Tan's "Rules of the Game" it is clear that that the conflicting Chinese and American cultures of an Urban, San Francisco Chinatown are of great importance to the Jong family. The Jong family children live in a world where they have the comforts of their culture in Chinatown--the traditional cooking and friendship of their contemporaries, the traditional shops and medicines, and the pervasive belief in luck. Despite this, it is clear that their lives are constantly infiltrated with American-ness: they are Baptists, go to schools where they hear Chinese stereotypes such as "Chinese torture," and believe in Western traditions, such as Santa Clause. Although it may not seem so at first, the conflict between Chinese and American culture is a driving force in Waverly's life. While she exhibits a respect for her Chinese ways, she seems to see her culture as something that holds her back. Indeed the "sly thought" to ask her mother about Chinese torture, assumption that younger children did not know Santa Clause was not Chinese, and frustration with her mother's honor and pride are examples of this. However, when Waverly calls the chess tournament she has yet to play in "too American," while secretly wanting to go, she makes clear for the first time that on her chess board, the American pieces are her white, offensive pieces, while the Chinese pieces are the black opposition. She must defeat the Chinese customs in order to proceed."

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