Unpacking Cultural Norms: A Critical Analysis of “Rules of the Game”

I have decided to analyze the short story “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan. This critical “Rules Of The Game” Essay is informative, and its sole purpose is to emphasize author’s literary work. My thesis statement consists in “The rules of the game of life”. Development of central ideas, the cultural conflict and the identity, and the continuous psychological battle between daughter and mother are the main stages of this essay.


In the story “Rules of the Game”, Waverly had to hold back her tongue (i. e. Remain silent to win; self-control) to get candies as the reward and these forbidden candies represents the condition of the social and physical elements. Waverly’s mother has taught her about the “…art of invisible strength; it was a strategy for winning arguments, respect from others and eventually, though neither of us knew it at the time, chess games” (1423) and about “the wind” which represents the ancestral wisdom, inner strength and courage. It also represents one’s conscience which is very important for Chinese people. The cultural identity is depicted by Waverly’s mother’s dignity of being a Chinese, by her mentality that Chinese culture is better than American. “Chinese people do business, do medicine, do paintiry. We do torture. Best torture” (1425). Waverly’s mother educated her children to exercise silence and power over their true emotions. She taught them to appreciate unwanted gifts as the second hand chess set. According to the differences in gender in Chinese culture, Waverly receives a petite nickname as “Meimei” (Chinese for “little sister”) (1424), whereas her brothers have deep and vibrant names such as -Winston and Vincent. Waverly’s mother took pride in her daughter of being the national chess champion and asserting that Chinese people can do everything better.

The cultural conflict is represented by Waverly being named after her family’s address “Waverly place” and therefore, their claim to the United States. On the contrary to the Chinese gender roles, her mother change rules in the household as Waverly can devote all her time on chess and she is freed of doing dishes proclaiming “Is new American rules “(1428), whereas now her brothers are accountable for it. The unfinished psychological battle between daughter and the mother, is portrayed by the struggle of control from Waverly and her mother. Waverly considers her mother as opponent as she states, “I could see the yellow lights shining from our flat like two tiger’s eyes in the night” (1430) and she considers herself the victim of her mother’s invisible powers. She confronts her mother during their shopping voyage “I wish you wouldn’t do that, telling everybody I am your daughter. ” (1429). Waverly thinks that her mother is using her for show off “why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off why don’t you learn to play chess? ”

According to her mother’s thinking, Waverly’s success is their family’s success. But according to Waverly’s American point of view, her accomplishments is her own individual’s success. She is ashamed of her mother, her family and race. When Waverly requests for less attention, her mother calls her a stupid girl. Therefore, her mother pretends to ignore Waverly’s existence and gives a silent treatment.


According to my thesis statement “The rules of the game of life” also depicts the mental prison that seeks individual accomplishments. This is game of life and Waverly is learning to apply the rules in the real life taught by her mother. She understands that she must emphasize her individuality but that can only be done by isolating from her family.


18 March 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now