The Joy Luck Club Chapter 5, Waverly Jong, Rules of the Game
When she was only six, Waverly Jong's mother Lindo taught her how to have "invisible strength." She taught her that crying to get what you want doesn't always work, but being quiet and following the rules to your advantage does. This led Waverly to be a chess champion. Growing up in San Francisco, Waverly didn't think she was poor. She always had enough to eat and was comfortable. But her apartment was small and in a crowded neighborhood. She remembers the fragrant Chinese markets and the white tourists. One Christmas, her family went to a party at the church they attended, and the children were given grab-bag presents. Her brother gets a chess set, and her mother tries to throw it away because it is obviously used. Her two brothers won't let her. Eventually they teach Waverly to play, and she gets good at it very quickly. She is fascinated with the rules, with the strategies for winning. A neighbor tells her she should compete in tournaments, and her mother unexpectedly agrees to this. Waverly gets angry when her mother, who knows nothing about the game, tries to tell her how to play, and then takes credit for her successes. Her mother gives her many privileges--she no longer has to do chores, for example--but she also brags constantly about her daughter, the national chess champion. One day Waverly confronts her mother. "Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don't you learn to play chess." Chapter 5, pg. 99 She twists out of her mother's arms and runs away. She runs until she has nowhere else to go. When she gets home, her mother instructs the rest of the family to ignore her. Waverly feels like she is playing chess with her mother, and her mother is winning. She doesn't know what to do.