Growing Up One Move At A Time – 202 Checkmates

In 202 Checkmates, there are many instances where the reader can see a coming of age narrative. The main character gradually starts experiencing more real life problems within her family and, through playing chess with her father, is able to learn many valuable lessons. She is also able to see the decline in her father’s stability by how often they play and the reactions that her dad has. The PARENT/child binary is a big part of this short story and it works hand-in-hand with the theme of coming of age. The relationship between the main character and her father progressively becomes more mutual as the story continues on. At the beginning, she looks at her father with such curiosity and idolization. These feelings towards her father are present throughout the whole story, but at times, the reader can see the decline in her father’s state along with the idolization. The chess board that her father gives her for her birthday is a metaphor that represents the undying admiration that her father has for her and the tradition that they have been participating in. It is also a representation of the father’s poor financial decisions and where his priorities lie. This is a moment in the story where the reader can see a crack in the family structure that is seemingly held together by both parents’ love for their children.

Applying Benjamin’s Theory

After reading this excerpt from Benjamin, I applied her theory to the PARENT/child binary. I found that parents make certain decisions because they have a responsibility that they brought upon themselves. They love their children so dearly because they are responsible for the safety and care of the child that they created. Her theory also made me consider relationships within a family structure in general. The MAN/woman binary was interesting to me because there has always been a societal norm that guided the actions of a man and a woman in a relationship. The feminist movement has disrupted that norm and it is causing people to rethink the system. Many people consider this unnatural, but in reality it makes total sense. It is similar to a child wanting to have freedom from their parents. The child will eventually gain freedom, but will one day be a parent and be in control of their child. There will always be a time when the so-called “done-to” are going to take action and try to free themselves from a system that they were submitting to such as when people revolt against something that they consider to be unjust. After revolutions, people build up what they consider to be the right way to dominate and then the process eventually repeats itself.