Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rules of the Game by Amy Tan - Analysis

The author of the story Rules of the Game, Amy Tan, is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, who grew up in California. The main character is a girl named Meimei, who absorbed knowledge about the rules for living in a society which she learned from her mother and people around her.

The author wrote in the first line, "I was six when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength. It was a strategy for winning arguments, respect from others". The title of the story is connected with the idea of following rules for individuals living in society. Because of that, the story seems contain autobiographical memories told from the point of view of a Chinese girl who lived with her family in San Francisco's Chinatown.

The mother of the girl demanded that she, “bite back her tongue" when the girl begged for candies in the shop. Next time, only after the girl accepted this advice, did her mother buy the candies without her asking. Her mother "quietly plucked a small bag of plums from the rack and put it on the counter with the rest of the items.".

The Chinese community kept it’s identity, it was represented in the story by a few episodes. The first one was about a restaurant where the menu was only in Chinese. When one foreigner asked Meimei what they served there, she shouted, “Guts and duck's feet and octopus gizzards!” and ran off. The second episode was about the statement which one boy said in the class that Chinese people do Chinese torture. When Meimei asked her mother about it, she replied “Chinese people do many things ... Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture.

The core part of the story is dedicated to chess. Once the children received a chess set as a Christmas gift. Two of Meimei's older brothers started playing the game and Meimei begged them to allow her to play too. After, her brother briefly explained her the basic rules, she asked why the pawn could move only to the one direction. The answer was about chess but it could be referred to the general knowledge which every child faced:

Why can't they move more steps?” “Because they're pawns,” he said. “But why do they go crossways to take other men? Why aren't there any women and children?” “Why is the sky blue? Why must you always ask stupid questions?” asked Vincent. “This is a game. These are the rules. I didn't make them up. See. Here. In the book.

Eventually, Meimei studied the rules of the game, she became a regional chess champion. The success came when she understood the rules of this game. The idea of accepting rules for definite achievements was presented by the author as a crucial thing. Success will come for those people who know the rules.

Here is the link to the story:

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