The graphic novel explores the concept of heritage in that no matter how much people attempt to change for the better who they really are is still the best.
The concepts of identity and acceptance are integral themes in the graphic novel wherein the actions of the main characters (the monkey king, Jin, and Danny), in one way or another, are driven by how they are perceived and validated by others resulting in the succeeding events in the given stories.
A more detailed examination of the story reveals how certain aspects of it are the story are the embodiment of the need for Asian Americans to be noticed beyond the mere Asian stereotypes that are attributed to them. The graphic novel explores the concept of heritage in that no matter how much people attempt to change for the better who they really are is still the best.
All the main characters in the story attempt to remove an aspect associated with themselves, for the monkey king it is being a monkey and for Jin, it is being Asian. All of this is done for the sake of perception wherein the main characters believe that the perception of others is so important that they need to be able to change themselves in order to be better accepted.
It must be noted that the story delves into a current social trend in how Chinese Americans strive to be more like “other” Americans and in fact begin to dislike their Asian heritage due to the various stereotypes attached to it.
This apparent “Americanization” can be seen in various social situations wherein Asian Americans continue to distance themselves from traditional Asian behaviors and customs in order to embrace a greater degree of “Americanism”.
This can be seen in the situation of Jin wherein due to his growing disdain for being Asian he transforms into Danny which is merely a metaphorical transformation of an Asian who has let for his/her traditions and culture in order to better fit in by being more American.
Towards the end, the graphic novel brings up the concept of acceptance wherein both the monkey king and Jin learn to accept their respective heritage. This is done when both come to the realization that their heritage is not their weakness but in fact, is their greatest strength.
It is a strength that defines who they are and something which can never truly go away. This holds true for both Jin and the monkey king wherein despite their changed appearance and attitude their heritage is still a part of who they are. In the end, they learn to accept their respective heritage and become better because of it.
s such the story explores the concept of being able to accept who you are and coming out better because of it. It explored and ongoing social trend in the U.S. regarding Asian Americans and presented the idea that it isn’t necessary for them to completely change who they are since what they were before was perfectly alright.
It is the realization of this concept that is reflected in the actions of both the monkey king and Jin which the author hopes to relay to the audience helping them realized that who they are doesn’t need to change since what they are right now is exactly who they should be.
The number of stereotypes used in media and everyday lives affects how people interact with each other in the real world. Chin-Kee’s story was in the form of a TV show. Danny is a popular American boy whose cousin Chin-Kee comes every year to visit from China (Yang 126). Chin-Kee represents how Asian-Americans feel about stereotypes. Jin-Wang is an Asian-American boy who moves from San Francisco to another American suburb; where he is teased. Jin-Wang thinks it’s ridiculous how people judge him and the people he hangs out with because of their race. Chin-Kee turns out to be the Monkey King at the end (who was also teased because he was a monkey). This shows how Chin-Kee makes American Asians feel ashamed of their culture, including Jin Wang/Danny and represents many stereotypes about the Asian culture.
People reacted to Chin-Kee in different ways. Danny starts his part of the story studying with a girl named Melanie. Melanie does not want to go out with Danny because of how Chin-Kee treated her when he arrived from the airport (Yang 50,123). The teachers liked Chin-Kee because he got all the answers right in their class (Yang 111,112,113). This made the teachers expect more from their students and that made the students be annoyed at Chin-Kee (Yang 111). People did not want to sit with Danny at lunch when they saw that he was associated with Chin-Kee (Yang 114). The same goes for how people treated Jin differently when he became friends with Wei-Chen (Yang 40). People treat Chin-Kee and the people he is associated with differently because of how he acts.
Chin-Kee represents stereotypes about Asian culture. He talks with an accent (Yang 51) and eats food that makes people assume about what Asian people eat (Yang 114). Chin-Kee dresses in clothing and spits when he talks. None of the students want to talk to Danny during lunch because of the food Chin-Kee is eating (Yang 114). Danny argues that he is nothing like Chin-Kee. Danny represents what most Asian Americans feel because of stereotypes; which is one of the reasons Jin transformed.
Jin is trying to deny that he is Chinese. He wants to be the all-American jock that he has transformed into. Making himself believe that he is not Chinese is how he forfeited his soul and transformed into Danny. People don’t like Danny anymore because of how Chin-Kee acts.
Danny thinks that Chin-Kee should not act like he does because it brings unwanted attention to him. Nobody wants to interact with Danny because he is obligated to hang out with Chin-Kee. After the Chin-Kee reveals that he is the Monkey King and also reveals that Danny is Jin, he says “You misunderstand my intentions, Jin. I did not come to punish you. I came to serve as your conscience- as a signpost to your soul,” (Yang 221). Chin-Kee/Monkey King says this to help Jin that he should not try and deny that he is Chinese.
Other people cause Asian Americans to feel excluded because he acts differently than all of the other American students. He makes students feel uncomfortable because of his accent, food, and the stereotypes he represents. He represents stereotypes that are not necessarily true about Asian culture.
Asian American students today are faced with the issue of identity in American society. They are faced with this issue because of their unfamiliar background to American society. They want to fit in and become accepted in the school’s diverse environment. The graphic novel, American Born Chinese by Gene Yang, exemplifies the issue of Asian American student’s search for identity in American society. He wanted to target teenager that is struggling to find an identity and acceptance in school.
To target Asian American students, Yang uses the stories of three different characters: Monkey King, Danny, and Jin Wang.
Each character in the story faces the issue of finding an identity and acceptance.
Yang mostly focused on the story of Jin Wang because his Chinese background constantly plagues him. Jin tries to do everything to fit-in with the American students. He tries to conceal his Chinese background and tries to change his appearance. In the end, he learns to accept his Chinese background; therefore, finding his identity and acceptance. Yang wanted to show that accepting yourself is the key to unlocking your identity and finding acceptance in American society.
Yang wanted Asian American students to connect with his book by strategically converging the three stories, the negative experience of characters, and negative stereotypes to show that accepting themselves will allow them to find their identity and acceptance in American society. Yang converges the three stories to strategically show Asian American students the three different perspectives. The first story is about the Monkey King. He struggles to find acceptance in the Heavens because he was a monkey. The second story is about Jin Wang who is constantly plagued by his Chinese background.
The last story is about Danny, in the end revealed to be Jin Wang, who struggles with his embarrassing stereotypical cousin, Chin-Kee, that forces him to switch school because of the embarrassment. Towards the end of the book, Yang joins the three stories together. We find that Danny is Jin and Chin-Kee is the Monkey King. At this point, the Monkey king wanted Jin to realizes that being himself is the only way to find his true identity. He told Jin, “You know, Jin, I would have saved myself from five hundred years’ imprisonment beneath a mountain of rock had I only realized how good it is to be a monkey. (Yang 222-223)
The convergence of the three stories relates to Asian American students because they constantly face the same problems as Jin. They want to hide their identity and want to become someone that they are not. They want to fit-in by trying to be someone that they are not. Just like Jin, they would want to be someone like Danny, but they are constantly haunted by their Asian Background to show that they don’t fit-in. Yang wanted to demonstrate this issue in his book by joining the three stories so his audience can relate to their own negative experience of finding identity and acceptance.
Jin Wang’s negative experience story is also another way Yang used to connect his audience to the book. Jin constantly struggles with his Chinese background and American Culture. He desperately wants to fit in with the American students in the school, but he is constantly reminded about the Chinese stereotypes that are keeping him from fitting-in. “My momma says Chinese people eat dogs. “Now be nice, Timmy! ” – I’m sure Jin doesn’t do that! In fact, Jin’s family probably stopped that sort of thing as soon as they came to the United States! (Yang 30-31) Jin tries his best to fit in with the other students, but everything he tries backfires because he is constantly criticized. He changes his hairstyle, dates an American girl, and tries to act “American. ”
With this constant struggle, Jin fails to notice his best friend, Wei-Chin’s support. Jin only criticizes Wei-Chin for being Chinese. Due to these problems, Jin fails to find his identity and acceptance, even among his friends. Yang wanted to show the negative experience of Jin to connect with Asian American students. In school, most Asian American students try to hide their unique backgrounds because it’s unknown in school.
They are also constantly stereotyped; such as, Chinese people eat dogs. This causes Asian American students to feel insecure and embarrassed when they are reminded of their background. Therefore, American students do not socially accept them. Yang used Jin’s story to emotionally connect with Asian American students because it shows the negative impression of Asian background. This emotional connection allowed his audience to see Yang’s perspective of the negative experience of finding identity and acceptance. Yang also connects his audience with negative Asian American Stereotypes.
In his book, one of the most noticing stereotypes that are presented in this graphic novel is Danny’s cousin Chin-Kee. Chin-Kee is described to have a strong Asian accent, bucktooth, and have “chinky” eyes. He also eats weird food, answers every question correctly, and knows Kung Fu. This stereotype connects with Asian American students because they are also labeled as these stereotypes. With these stereotypes, it made it difficult for Asian American students to find identity and acceptance because they are constantly trying to avoid these stereotypes.
The commendation of Asian Americans as a model minority implicitly denigrates other racial groups. Thus, Asian Americans might be more susceptible to racial harassment, discrimination, and hate crime than other ethnic groups. ”(Perception of Asian American Students: Stereotypes and Effects) Yang wanted to show these stereotypes to connect to his audience because seeing these stereotypes in a book keeps the audience emotionally involved in the story because his audiences are also facing the same racial issues in school.
This keeps the audience connected and interested in this book. Yang also wanted to show his audiences that accepting these stereotypes, like Jin, will help them find their identity and acceptance in American society. Gene Yang wanted to show his audience that accepting yourself is the only way to find identity and acceptance. He used many examples from his text, American Born Chinese that exemplifies the struggle to find identity and acceptance. He strategically converges three different stories that show Jin’s realization of accepting his Chinese background and culture.
Yang also uses Jin’s negative experience in American schools. He goes through constant negative Chinese stereotypes from his classmates and feels socially unaccepted. Yang uses these parts of his book to emotionally connect with Asian American students because they are also constantly facing the same issues in school. He wanted to make this emotional connection with his audience to show that accepting yourself is the only way to find true identity and acceptance.
In American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, the main theme would have to be identity. Despite the graphic novel consisting of three separate storylines, the main characters in the book all share the same issue – being uncomfortable with whom they are and connected to. If one were to simplify and boil the message of the book down to one word, it would be self-acceptance.
The morals of identity and self-acceptance are what American Born Chinese is about. Yang’s novel serves as a reminder that we must accept ourselves how we are – not trying to be something or someone we are not.
In the first storyline of the novel, the readers are introduced to the legendary Monkey King – the first of three characters who struggle with self-acceptance. Even though he reigns over Flower Mountain, Monkey is not content by being just a king – he desires to be recognized as a deity.
Nevertheless, because other deities see him nothing other than a monkey, he learns as many disciplines as possible to exceed the life of his kind. However, in the end, attempting to be something he is not, he loses control.
The second storyline brings in Jin Wang, a young kid who is enrolled in an American school after coming from China. Not long after his first day of school, Jin finds out just how difficult it is to be one of the few Asians among the many American faces. Afterward, when another young boy from Taiwan is enrolled as an exchange student named Wei-Chen, Jin at first takes no interest. He doesn’t want to be out in public with other Asian people, but he later realizes the things they have in common and later become the best of friends. In spite of that though, Jin Wang is internally ashamed of his friends’ Asian heritage.
The last storyline presents Danny, an American high school basketball player who has the perfect student life every year until his cousin from China, Chin-Kee, comes for a visit. Just when Danny is about to get a girlfriend, make a sports team, or become popular around the school, a visit from his “F. O. B. ” cousin changes his whole life, forcing Danny to transfer schools in order to escape the embarrassment and shame. Because Chin-Kee has slanted eyes, buck teeth, knows Kung-Fu, and has an accent, Danny loses his way and goes all out on his cousin – only resulting in one very bad move.
In the end, all three storylines merge together, revealing the moral of the novel – accepting yourself just the way you are. Each character was ashamed of something they were “unfortunately” connected to – the Monkey King’s species, Jin’s Asian culture, and Danny’s cousin.
They were so obsessed with how others saw them that they lost control, bringing harm only to themselves. The Monkey King, Jin, and Danny all at first failed to realize that there is nothing wrong with being an outsider. This novel, all in all, stresses the importance of self-acceptance.
American Born Chinese Summary
-five pillars that the monkey king peed on was the fingers of Tze Yo Tzuh
-Drives the Monkey forward toward Monkey’s ultimate transformation into a humble, good monkey
-First buries Monkey under a mountain of rock, then sends Monkey his chance at freedom and redemption through self-love in the form of the monk, Wong Lao-Tsai
-The Monkeys opposite
-Turns out to be the Monkey King
-Punches Jin for calling him an FOB after Jin kissed Suzi
-Nice popular white girl
-Chinkee turns out to be the Monkey King
-both became something that they are not just because they wanted to fit in
-Jin was tired of being called a F.O.B. then Jin wakes up as Danny
-the Monkey King also has trouble fitting in in his world the monkey king was a great deity in his world but not to the gods goddesses and the demons so he spends time making himself to be more humanly