American Born Chinese written by Gene Luen Yang, is about characters finding their true identity. This book uses three different parallel times in order to explain the story. Ultimately, all the three stories combined into one at the end of the book. Wong-Lai Tsao, a monk in American Born Chinese, receives “legendary” status. Through this character, Gene Luen Yang, tells readers that in order to receive “legendary” status you must have a heart to give to others. On page 135, Gene Yang shows that Wong-Lai Tsao could not meditate for more that twenty days, he couldn’t fast for more than half a day, and when he preached he did not make sense, but Wong-Lai Tsao is still very remarkable. What makes him remarkable is that he gathered fruit in a nearby orchard just to share it with the vagrants who lived outside of town. This really helped the people because they were always very hungry. He also fixed and changed people’s wounds which is a very kind thing for him to do. Wong-Lai Tsao really could not do anything that other monks could do, but what made him remarkable is the he helped others which is something different then other monks did. Wong-Lai Tsao was chosen by Tze-Yo-Tzuh in to go on a quest to help others. Wong-Lai Tsao helped the Monkey King find his true self. The author introduces the Monkey King as a self-proclaimed sage, but he is not. After, Wong-Lai Tsao helps the Monkey King find his true self, the Monkey King becomes enlightened and also become a true sage. All in all, you must have the heart to give to others in order to receive “legendary” status.
American Born Chinese, page 135
Gene Luen Yang shows in his book American Born Chinese that people may act one way to fit in even though what they pretend to be goes against their own core values. Jin the main character is a Chinese American boy who moves from China Town in San Francisco to an undisclosed suburb in California. Jin consistently finds himself in school with only two other Asian classmates, Suzie and Wei. Jin struggles with identity and put his friendships in danger to “Fit In”. Jin decides to get a perm after people make fun of his hair for not being like the hair they have. Jin is made fun of like this consistently in the book. Next, Yang shows Jin, the main character change himself so much after being criticized he transforms into Danny. Danny has a character in his part named Chin-Kee who is the Monkey King. The Monkey King wanted to be a god even though he was as his name states, the king of monkeys not a god. The character Chin-Kee was an over stereotyped Chinese person that was meant to offend people and made Danny (Jin) embarrassed. It is revealed in the end of the book that Chin-Kee is the Monkey King and transforms Danny back into Jin. The lesson was that no matter how much you try to hide it you are who you are and you can’t change our background and culture. I believe Gene is showing that your background outlines who you are and sticks with you for life.
Author’s Personal Site: http://geneyang.com/
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/American-Born-Chinese-Gene-Luen/dp/0312384483
American Born Chinese, page 98
American Born Chinese, page 60
In the book American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang, all three characters, The Monkey King, Jin, and Danny changed. All three of these characters wanted to be something other than what they really were. Through these characters, Gene Luen Yang warns readers that changing is good, but not always. When Jin changed, he was no longer himself. He tried to be more like the people around him. He had moved from Chinatown in San Francisco to a primarily white suburb. He did not like being an outcast, and he wanted to fit in. For instance, he changed his hair and got a perm to make it look more like the hair of the other kids. He tried so hard to change that he ended up changing into Danny. Danny was just a different version of Jin. Danny was everything that Jin wanted to be to fit in. It is possible to change but still be yourself, but that means you can’t change for anyone else. If change is natural and you are not changing for someone or something, you will always be yourself. If you are changing for someone or something, then you will no longer be yourself because you are trying to be what someone else wants and not what you are. For example, the monkey king changed himself to be considered a god and so he could go to parties with the other gods. He started wearing shoes and acting entitled. He became angrier, meaner, and disrespectful because he wanted to be a god. He was even mean to the monkeys who worshiped him. This was not what he was like at the beginning. Changing is good when it is natural, but when it is forced, nothing pleasant can come of it.
Gene Luen Yang tells the reader in his book American Born Chinese that it is wrong to change who you are to fit in and be acceptable. The Herbalist’s wife says “ It’s easy to become anything you wish, so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul,” page 29. This she means that you can do anything you want to do, so long as you’re willing to give up the things and people you love the most. Your soul is made up of all of your family, friends, important traditions, and your background culture. They are what make you who you are. It would be wrong to give up a part of your self to become something you’re not, just to impress others. For example, at the beginning of the book we see Jin eating dumplings, but soon changes to eating sandwiches. A person might give their soul up to do something that nobody else is okay with, or they might do it to make everybody happy. Another example being when the Monkey King changes himself to prove to the Gods he is worthy of their party. Jin loses his soul, his best friend Wei Chin when he transforms into Danny on page 198, but at the end of the book, the Monkey Kings brings his soul back by telling him where to find Wei Chen, on page 224.
American Born Chinese, Page 32
American Born Chinese, page 37
American Born Chinese, page 215
The book American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is three different stories where three different characters that want the same thing, to fit in. In one story, with a monk, it shows that to become legendary all you need to do is to commit acts of kindness. You don’t even need to be known by everyone to become legendary. The biggest factor to become legendary is to be not mean. One example of someone who is legendary in this book is Wong Lai-Tsao he is legendary because he helps homeless people, and other monks don’t usually do that. Even though on page 135 it shows that Wong Lai-Tsao could not meditate, fast, or even preach. Though because he helped homeless people every day, the gods chose him to partake in a very large journey, The Journey to The West. The Monkey King, who started out small and unknown, went on The Journey to The West with Wong Lai-Tsao and became all-knowing and stood in holy presence this was all possible with the help of the legendary Wong Lai-Tsao. Therefore, you can become legendary without doing an amazing act like becoming stone by staying still, and staring death in the face. So, in conclusion, anyone can become legendary. Gene Luen Yang is showing us that all you need to be to become legendary is to serve others by being nice to them and putting their needs in front of yours.
The book American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a book that shows readers the value of staying true to yourself. In American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, the author uses three different stories to convey the theme of trying to be noticed by others and wanting to be great. In one of the stories there is a boy named Jin that tries to forget his Chinese heritage when he moves to a mostly all white suburb. He starts off with being mean to the only other Asian boy Wei-Chen. Jin ends up changing his hair to fit in with the popular white kids, forgetting about wei-chen his only friend. Throughout the whole story Jin tries so hard to change who he is to fit in, that he betrays his friendship with Wei-Chen. This mistake causes Jin to realize what he has done, and what he must do to become himself again. In another one of the stories there is a monkey king that wants to be legendary, he doesn’t want to be a monkey anymore. So he gives up everything for nearly invincible kung-Fu powers to prove a point to the gods. He does all that just to get trapped under a mountain of stone for 500 years. While he is trapped the creator send a monk to illuminate the monkey kings mistake and try to bring him back to reality. The Monkey King is then forced with making a decision to forfeit his powers and return to his true self to save the monk, or stay trapped and let the monk die. The Monkey king decides to forfeit his powers and return to his true self, and save the monk. The monkey later realizes how much he loved being a monkey. Like Jin, the monkey king tries to be someone he is not and makes a mistake that lets him see what he has done, and how he can change it. Last is Wei-Chen was Jin’s friend, or so he thought. He lied for his friendship, and then when he was betrayed by Jin, he realizes that friendship is not worth it. He then forfeits his life because he doesn’t want to serve humans. Wei later realizes what he has done and slowly starts to come back to reflect on what he has done. All three of these characters forget the importance of valuing who they are.
American Born Chinese, page 84
The Author, Gene Luen Yang, wasted no time teaching readers the most important lesson in the book American Born Chinese. The main character, Jin Wang, is Chinese American boy who moved from Chinatown San Francisco to a white suburb. On page 29 while the main character Jin’s mom is at the herbalist, the herbalist’s wife tells Jin “it’s easy to become anything as long as you forfeit your soul.”This quote is very imperative to the book and what it stands for. The quote means that you have to be willing to make a sacrifice to be what you want to be. An example is when Jin forfeits his soul to be more American. It starts of really small and then gets bigger. The first of his changes is when his lunch changes from dumplings to sandwiches. But then the change starts to get bigger and bigger. For example, when he kisses Suzy Nakamura he is betraying his best friend Wei Chen by kissing Suzy who is Wei’s girlfriend. Then his hair and his skin color change completely. He changes so much that as the book goes on the reader can tell he has lost his soul through all of his transformations. It would change who I am because I would have to cope with the fact that I didn’t have what I had anymore, but I would blend into what I get. I think a person would give up a chance of a new life or good health for their soul. I think that good health and a happy family would be worth forfeiting a soul. It might mean something that will come up later in the story as a reflection or something like that. The lesson that Gene Luen Yang teaches us is that changing yourself is very powerful and it might mean you forget who you are and what you are. This quote goes a long way for characters like Jin and the monkey king throughout the whole book and in my mind it is the cornerstone lesson of the book.