The message of not looking for outside sources of validation is a theme in Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese. The book follows three separate protagonists, Monkey King, Jin, and Danny, each struggle with their identity. One way Gene Luen Yang shows that acceptance in not gained through the validation of others, but instead through your strengths is in the Monkey King’s story. He is not pleased with just being a monkey and tries to prove himself as a god, which leads to him being stuck under rocks for 500 years. The Monkey King breaks out of the rocks on page 149, when Wong-Lai-Tsao, a monk sent on a journey to help others, asks if being a prisoner of rock is his destiny. Here, Monkey understands that his purpose is much more important than feeling sorry for himself for not being a monkey. The rocks symbolize everything that holds the Monkey King down, and when he breaks free, he accepts them, which leads him to go on and help others. The Monkey King also realizes that he is still a king, and that’s a strength that helps him aide others. Another example of having to recognize your identity in order to find true friendship is through Jin’s story. Jin is a boy who is ashamed of his Chinese heritage and tries to get rid of it by becoming a fully American boy. He tries to get rid of his rocks, his heritage, by perming his hair to look like the popular white boy, Greg. In the end, these changes end up doing more harm to Jin than good. Through a series of odd events, the Monkey King finally meets Jin and tells him how he had to wait 500 years under rocks instead of admitting that he was a monkey. It is this moment that Jin understands that he needs to break free of the fear of his heritage, so he can live his life and fulfill his purpose. Jin and the Monkey King become better people, with the Monkey King going on to help the world and Jin offering aid to Wei-Chen when they understand what is keeping them away from their goal. They see their rocks, their doubts, their fears, and don’t let them control their life. They choose what defines them, not letting what holds them back define them. They accept who they are, a king and a bicultural boy, and chose to take advantage of them in order to help others.