The author of the book American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang, wrote an intellectually thought provoking quotes I have ever read. American Born Chinese is a graphic novel with three stories within it. The first story is about the Monkey King. It takes place in Chinese mythology. He is a mighty ruler who had mastered the four disciplines of kung- fu. He cannot get into a dinner party because he is not a human. He then shape shits into a human form and he shows everyone he is a human. The second story is the story of Jin. He moves to a predominately white neighborhood form China Town, California. He tries to fit in and face the stereotypes that come with being bicultural. The third story is the story of Chin Kee. He is the cousin and a white boy Danny. Chin Kee is meant to be the exact stereotype of a Chinese person. He wears old Chinese garments, has a long braid, and he had large buck teeth. This story also references prejudice cartoons about Asians from the last century. “It’s easy to become anything you wish, so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.” That is a quote from the herbalist’s wife from the book. This quote means that you can do anything, but it comes at a price. For example, if there are people competing for a big prize, one person may get very rough and mean towards others. This person may win, but at the cost of his friendship. Everybody is guilty of trying different things to make yourself fit in and be likeable. In the story, Jin begins this process at Mayflower Elementary School by trying to break his Chinese image. He is made fun of because of the Chinese food he is seen eating. Although Jin later forfeits his soul. It is wrong to do so because “forfeiting your soul” can change you. You can become selfish and lose your core values. A person could “forfeit their soul” for money, power, strength, fame, and other ways to gain power and popularity. These things are not worth forfeiting your soul, nothing is. Jin tries to lose his Asian heritage to become fully American for Amelia. Jin needs to realize that he cannot change who he is. He has to understand that he will always look one way and he needs to except that. You should not forfeit your soul. If you were to forfeit your soul, your life would go great ultimately leading to your downfall. This may include losing friends, family, and other people or just losing something of value to you. Just realize who you are and understand to embrace yourself.
Can you change for the better or only for the worst? And if you change can you change back? Change is imperative to developing yourself as a person and figuring out what works out for yourself. Overall American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is about figuring out that your true form is your only form. Characters in American Born Chinese experience a change like Jin and Wei-Chen. Jin goes through the transformation of his hair, which he permed, his overall confidence, and he is more sure of himself. For example, on page 188 when he kisses Susy, Wei-Chin’s girlfriend, he has sudden bolts of confidence that change his actions. Also, he feels no remorse, which relates to him being more sure of himself and him believing in himself, which he states on page 192. Next, Wei-Chin modifies himself by his appearance because at first he looked more like a nerd now he looks more like a bad boy even though he has the same personality for the most part (you can see his new look on page 229). Even when Jin tried to change to Danny he couldn’t stay him forever because that wasn’t who he was and that’s why the Monkey King changed him back, just like the monkey changed back to his monkey form because that’s when he was at his best. The Monkey King believes that true form is the only form, I have experienced the feeling of trying to adjust. Since I was a little kid I was constantly altering myself for other peoples liking but deep down I always thought change wasn’t needed. Now, at the beginning of 8th grade I have figured out that I was always bound to change and changing is for the better because if you don’t change how are you supposed to develop as a person? Everyone changes for the better or for the worse, change is inevitable.
In the book, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, the character Chin-Kee’s story is drawn in a sitcom format, much like the show Everybody Loves Raymond. He included visual elements such as an applause and laugh track at the bottom of the page. Gene Yang used a sitcom format to show us how stereotypes are deeply ingrained in television shows and movies. The media has portrayed the ‘typical American family’ as an upper middle class, white family. In most of these shows, characters that are not white are heavily stereotyped, dehumanizing people of these cultures and making them seem like aliens. For example, the movie Sixteen Candles has a character named Long Duk Dong. His character is a combination of Chinese stereotypes such as not being able to speak English well and trying his best to be cool and fit in. Gene yang wanted his readers to see how these stereotypes are taken lightly and often go unnoticed, forcing us to see how racist and wrong it actually is.