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Once when shopping with her mother, the six-year-old Waverly longs for some salted plums.Because she fusses for them, her mother refuses to buy them.Best torture.” At a church Christmas party, the Jong children receive gifts, among which is a used chess set.At church, Lindo thanks the ladies, but at home, she sniffs proudly that they do not want it.As her hair is being combed painfully by Lindo, Waverly slyly asks her what Chinese torture is.
When Waverly becomes a national chess champion at a young age, she's embarrassed by her mother's preening.
In this waking dream, Waverly feels herself wafted aloft by a wind, detached from her family, and she remembers Lindo’s words, “Strongest wind cannot be seen.” In her terrifying yet exhilarating impasse, Waverly understands that to be herself she must assert her individuality but that she cannot do so without isolating herself from her family.
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She is named after “Waverly Place,” her family’s address and, therefore, their claim to the United States.
Waverly is diminutively nicknamed as “Meimei” (Chinese for “little sister”), whereas her two brothers have resonant, victorious names—Winston and Vincent.
Initially, Lindo deflects her daughter’s question about the possibility of Chinese inhumanity, pointing out that Chinese people are good at business, medicine, and painting.