UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009

University of Dalat Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American Literature
Assignment 1:

Rules of the Games
Amy Tan

Report on

Instructor: Ms Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy Student: Dang Hoang Van Ha Number: 0623747 Spring 2009

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UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009

IMAGINE Research on Amy Tan’s writing Career
Amy Tan was born February 19, 1952 in Oakland, California. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated from high school in Montreux, Switzerland, and received her master's degree in Linguistics from San Jose State University. Her father, John Tan, was an electrical engineer and Baptist minister who came to America to escape the turmoil of the Chinese Civil War. This was where he met Daisy, Tan’s mother. In China, Daisy had divorced an abusive husband but lost custody of her three daughters. She was forced to leave them behind when she escaped to the US before the Communist takeover in 1949. Her marriage to John Tan produced three children, Amy and her two brothers. Throughout much of her childhood, Tan struggled with her parent's desire to hold onto Chinese traditions and her own longings to become more Americanized. She wanted to become a writer rather than her parent’s expectations of being a doctor and concert pianist. Tragedy struck the Tan family when Amy's father and oldest brother both died of brain tumors within a year of each other. Mrs. Tan moved her surviving children to Switzerland, where Amy finished high school, but by this time mother and daughter were in constant conflict. In 1988, Amy Tan earned good living writing speeches for business executives. She worked around the clock to meet the demands from her many high-priced clients, but there was no joyful in the work, and she felt frustrated and unsatisfied. In her mid-thirties, she took up writing fiction. A year later her first book, a collection of interrelated stories called The Joy Luck was introduced. Together with The Kitchen God's Wife written in 1991, The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001) and Saving Fish from Drowning (2005). All of them are best-seller and the film of The Joy Luck Club was an unprecedented success. Although they are primarily concerned with the lives and concerns of AsianAmerican women, her stories have found an enthusiastic audience among Americans of all backgrounds, and have already been translated into 23 languages. Additional, those works bring her a number of award such as National Book Award, finalist Los Angeles Time Fiction Prize, American Library Association’s Notable Books, New York Times Notable Book, Golden Plate and furthermore.

Amy Tan receiving Golden Plate from Phyllis Grann, Chairman of The Putnam Berkley Group.

Most of Tan’s stories were written about family relationship between mother and daughter, about differences between the East as China and the West as American, about the Chinese tradition and Chinese background in Americanization process of immigrant as well as her point of view about life. Her family and her childhood affect her writing a lot. Take The Kitchen God’s Wife as an example, the story written was based on her mother’s real life. Also, the family relationship is the innovation for Amy Tan to ‘play with her words’. Reading Amy’s books, people somewhat can understand the Chinese spirit inside her and that is the message sent to the next young generation to consider about their origin. It is also said that Tan fiction is the bridge of Old China and New American. Dang Hoang Van Ha AVK30D Page 2 of 9

UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009 In addition, Tan has written two children's books, (1992) and (1994). The latter is now being developed into a children's television series. However, past difficulties have certainly contributed to Ms. Tan and Mr. DeMattei's decision not to have children. "I remember being such an unhappy child," she said, "and I can't guarantee that I won't do the same things my mother did.", Tan said. Today, people read Amy Tan’s works to find a part of country spirit in her words, to understand more about life and to try to figure out how and why a neat and wellorganized lady tell us that "You see what power is - holding someone else's fear in your hand and showing it to them.".

Amy and her husband, Louis DeMattei.

"I discovered how Chinese I was by the kind of family habits and routines that were so familiar." Amy Tan, shopping in San Francisco.

Amy Tan and her mother Daisy read a letter from relatives in China.

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UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009

INTERPRET Language Exercise based on the story
• Background knowledge o "Rules of the Game" is set in San Francisco's Chinatown, a 14-square block district that began to flourish in the mid-1840s o History of San Francisco’s Chinatown  San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America. The largest Chinese community outside of Asia was the port of entry for early Chinese immigrants from the southern Guangdong province of China from the 1850s to the 1900s.  The area developed quite dramatically and soon became an industrial center of California, US.

San Francisco Chinatown

Chinatown at night

• Vocabulary Connotations A word’s denotation is its objective, dictionary definition. However, many words have connotations, meanings suggested by the word and the way it is used. Connotations can have a strong effect on people’s emotions, either positive or negative. For example, slow and methodical have similar denotations. However, in most contexts being slow has a negative connotation, whereas being methodical is considered positive. Other words, such as chair, do not evoke any emotion and are considered neutral. Decide which of the following Words to Own have positive connotations, negative connotations, or are neutral. In the space before each number, write P for positive, N for negative, or 0 for neutral. Then explain your answer on the lines provided by using examples or personal experiences. Example: humility P Humility is usually considered a virtuous quality. 1. ..............Intricate.................................................................................................... 2................Ancestral.................................................................................................. 3. ..............Obscured.................................................................................................. Dang Hoang Van Ha AVK30D Page 4 of 9

UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009 4. ..............Retort........................................................................................................ 5. ..............Touted...................................................................................................... 6. ..............Prodigy..................................................................................................... 7. ..............Malodorous.............................................................................................. 8................Concessions.............................................................................................. 9. ..............Careened.................................................................................................. 10. ............Successive................................................................................................ 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Answer sheet N 6. O 7. N 8. N 9. P 10 . P N O O O

Further discussion and Quiz • Discussion 1. Why does Waverly call chess "a game of secrets in which one must show and never tell"? Why does she love the secrets? 2. How does learning the rules of chess teach Waverly the rules of life?

• Quiz 1. In the "Rules of the Game," what advice would Waverly's mother give to new immigrants? A. Educate Americans so they will understand your beliefs. B. Adopt new American rules and leave your cultural beliefs behind. C. Ignore American rules when they conflict with your cultural beliefs. D. Use the wisdom and strength of your own culture to achieve the American dream. 2. What lessons does Waverly discover about achieving her personal goals through playing chess? A. People should know how to compromise. B. Success is determined by the amount of time it takes to win. C. People need to know what their goals are before making a move. D. Flexible and creative people can invent their own rules. 3. With which of these statements would Waverly's mother MOST LIKELY agree? A. Success is mostly luck. B. Sticking to your beliefs is more important than winning the game. C. Success is measured by what you do and not by what you say. D. Working hard is the key to success. 4. In "Rules of the Game," the wind symbolizes A. A powerful force that must be resisted to achieve success. B. The internal strength one gets from knowing how to apply rules strategically. C. The conflict between Waverly and her mother. D. The thoughts one shares with others. 5. At the end of the story, the important lesson that Waverly learns is that A. Clever people can talk their way out of difficult situations. Dang Hoang Van Ha AVK30D Page 5 of 9

UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009 B. She made critical mistakes when she did not consider the consequences of her action C. People are forgiving when they respect personal accomplishments. D. She could not avoid conflicts with people in power.
Answer sheet 1. D 2. C 3. C 4. B 5. B

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UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009

INTERPRET • Essay on ‘invisible strength”
In the story “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan, Waverly Jong's mother is always teaching her about the “art of invisible strength”. Waverly says that she uses this as a “strategy for winning arguments, respect from others, and eventually, though neither of us knew it at the time, chess games. Invisible strength symbolizes rules, and knowledge. The game of chess has many rules just like the game of life. When Waverly asked about the many rules of chess, she said 'This American rules,' she concluded at last. 'Every time people come out from foreign country, must know rules. You not know, judge say. Too bad, go back. They are not telling you why so you can use their way forward. They say “Don't know why, you find out yourself”. But they knowing all the time. Better you take it, find out yourself”. Rules are invisible because they are just a concept and an idea, but they hold limitless power because they influence everyone. Waverly also uses the “art of invisible strength” to win when she is playing chess and in life. Waverly was taught this art by her mother who also used this art as a set of rules such as “Bite back your tongue”. Waverly learned these rules that linked directly to life through trial and error such as when she wanted the “forbidden candies”. She first whined for them and later received them because she showed self-control by no longer whining. In addition to self-control, invisible strength is the strength of the human mind. In the beginning of the story, Waverly did not understand anything about chess. She “read the rules and looked up all the big words in a dictionary.” and later she came close to becoming a grand master. This invisible strength is the strength of her mind. The invisible strength is also like wind, strong but invisible. After her two brothers abandon chess for other recreational activities, Waverly still steadfastly stuck to chess showing her will to become good at chess. Waverly is unique because she is less then ten years old. She depends more on her mind and her ability to grasp new ideas quickly compared to older chess players who depend on their experience that comes with their old age. Other players such as grand master Bobby Fischer said “There will never be a woman grand master”. He and other chess players underestimate the invisible strength or the knowledge of young and feminine people. Waverly's mother also exhibits invisible strength. While she speaks broken English, Waverly's mother is smart and wise. She said “We not concerning this girl. This girl not have concerning for us”. With these few words, she makes Waverly feel shame. Waverly feels that her mother had beaten her with her invisible strength because she goes back to her room and imagines that “Her black men advanced across the plane, slowly marching to each successive level as a single unit. My white pieces screamed as they scurried and fell off the board one by one”. Throughout the story, Waverly's mother is teaching her about the power of invisible strength. It has unlimited power and is unexpected. She uses it in chess and learns from it through trial and error. Invisible strength symbolizes the power of the human mind.

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UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009

RESPOND Good parent
My idea Qualities Related to the story Explain

Responsibilitie s

Good children
My idea Qualities Related to the story Explain

Responsibilitie s

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UDL – Foreign Language Faculty Introduction to British and American literature Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy, Spring 2009

Source: http://www.amytan.net http://www.luminarium.org/contemporary/amytan/ http://www.notablebiographies.com/St-Tr/Tan-Amy.html http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/18/specials/tan-home.html http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/tan0pro-1 http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/history/index.html http://www.kqed.org/w/hood/chinatown/resourceguide/story.html

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