Concession in Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club Essay

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Concession in Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club

"Sometimes you have to lose pieces to get ahead," explains the narrator of
"The Rules of the Game," a lost piece from Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck
Club that has arguably achieved greater readership through its appearance
in numerous anthologies (505). "The Rules of the Game" pivots around the
concept that one may triumph in a win-lose situation through a concession.
Narrator Waverly Jong recounts applications of this idea as she grows into
adolescence in her Chinese-American community. From her adventures in the
local marketplace to her romps on the chess battlefield, Waverly's prizes
while asserting her concede-to-win strategy include physical objects and
abstractions, the intangibility of the latter implying that one's
examination of this story must consider terms like conflict, win, and loss
in the broadest sense possible. With this in mind, Tan's "The Rules of the
Game" explores the determinants behind wins and losses, ultimately
suggesting that the most effective way to achieve victory is through an
act of concession. Tan introduces this idea as a vague proverb rattled by
Waverly's mother that Waverly bevels into sharp clarity by her involvement
in situations of conflict that eventually demonstrate the veracity of her
mother's words.

The first conflict of "The Rules of the Game" materializes when Waverly
accompanies her mother to the marketplace as a young child and experiences
a loss.

"Bite back your tongue," scolded my mother when I cried loudly, yanking
her hand toward the store that...

... middle of paper ...

in the struggle to win.

In short, Tan presents several conflicts that investigate the factors in
win-lose situations, each conflict reiterating the notion that one must
forego a triviality to outmaneuver his opponent to victory. This
abstraction appears immediately in the story in an abstruse manner but is
eventually clarified by evaluating the consistencies of the sundry
conflicts. The repetition of these conflicts with similar outcomes
involving (or not involving) concessions elucidates the idea that an act
of concession is assuredly the most foolproof approach to triumph in a

Work Cited

Tan, Amy. "The Rules of the Game." The Vintage Book of Contemporary
American Short Stories. Ed. Tobias Wolff. New York: Random House, Inc.,
1994. 497-508.

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