Topic: Family relationships can be difficult but rewarding
Thesis: In the two short stories, “Saturday Climbing” by W.D. Valgardson and “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan, both highlight and explore the rewards and conflicts of family relationships, such as the teenage struggle for independence, how successful relationships require compromise, and the need for both parents and teenagers to understand each other’s opinions.
Rules of the Game
Point A: The struggle for independence, or the transition from childhood to approaching adulthood
At the beginning of the story, Barry is leading; Moira is following. After Barry’s wife leaves, he is the only parent. He tries to protect Moira by providing unhesitating leadership. The rope is a symbol of not only their physical connection on the mountain by also of their relationship; they are “tied” together by duty, love, and responsibility.
"At the same time, the numerous cracks dwindled until there was no place to set any protection." This refers to the dwindling of the relationship. It is beginning to crack, or break apart under the stress and pressure. It also symbolizes the aspect of growing up that one becomes more independent. Barry will be able to protect Moira less and less, as she starts to find her own way.
By being so overly protective of her, he was never really influencing her at all but by getting them into rock climbing together, he’s taught her to believe in herself and to challenge herself. As Moira deviates from Barry’s path, she’s learning to be more independent and confident in herself. As she leads the way towards the end of the story, she shows her independence and confidence she’s gained from the previous weeks.
The mother-daughter struggle for psychological ascendancy between Lindo and Waverly is the most prominent manifestation of Tan’s theme of power. Lindo wants Waverly to be dependent on her for the fulfillment of Waverly’s wants, her physical and psychological well-being, and even her defining mental power. If Waverly admits her dependence, she is her mother’s creature. If Waverly succeeds in asserting her independence by claiming individual credit for her chess powers, she will be her own person. Implicit in this mother-daughter struggle is a conflict contrasting Asian values, which emphasize familial and communal honor, against American values, which reward individual achievement. Asians more readily attribute a person’s achievement to familial and communal nurturing, whereas Americans more readily give this credit to an individual’s own efforts and talents.
Point B: Successful relationships require compromise
"Then, unexpectedly, the surfaces smoothed; the places where he could get a secure hold were spread farther and farther apart." :reflects the difficulty Barry encounters in his role as a single-parent of a teenager. Barry's secure hold on the rocks; symbolize his monitoring of his daughter. As Moira becomes more independent, it is harder for Barry to keep watching her and make sure she's safe. Moira: out late to parties and on dates. Barry can't be with her all day & can't maintain her security. The secure holds symbolize the direction the relationship between Barry and Moira is heading. They are distancing themselves from each other. Barry has trouble keeping track of what Moira does, and Moira is willing to let Barry into her world by telling him what's going on.
When Barry is stuck half way up the cliff: represents that Barry has encountered a problem with Moira. "If he fall, he would drop twenty-five feet to the piton, then twenty-five feet past it before his rope came taut and held him. ": represents risks Barry is willing to take for his daughter in order to salvage their relationship. Barry would go to extremes for his daughter. This is the case in the climb and it is the same in parenthood. A fall could prove fatal, and would lead to failure. In each situation, Barry is under…