be to classify it as a graphic novel made for young adults to read. Although this predictable
reaction can be supported by the graphic novel‟s content and structure, a closer evaluation of the
book allows the reader to see many mature and complex ideas emerging from under the surface.
One of the most obvious of the ideas is racism. Jin Wang, the protagonist who tells the story, has
to cope with life in America as an ethnic minority. Due to the fact that Jin is a Chinese American,
he witnesses bigotry firsthand on many occasions. This racial intolerance ultimately leads Jin to
sacrifice a sizeable part of who he is as a person in order to please others in the book. Although it
appears that Jin recognizes the error of his decisions by book‟s end, the pressure to conform,
borne out of racism, causes Jin to experience many problems throughout the story.
Before discussing examples of the topic of racism in the graphic novel, it is important to
understand the struggles of the story‟s protagonist, Jin Wang. As a child, we see Jin consistently
clutching a red transformer toy in hands. The said toy makes its first appearance on page 23 of
the book. On the book‟s 28th page, the herbalist‟s wife, an ancient looking old woman with a
protruding chin asks Jin if he wants to be a transformer. (American Born Chinese 28.4) When he
responds by saying that he does but his mother says it‟s silly, the old woman makes a very
important comment. On page 29, the old woman says, “it‟s easy to become anything you wish,
so long as you‟re willing to forfeit your soul. (American Born Chinese 29.1)
The old woman‟s statement serves as a means to introduce an idea that direct...
... middle of paper ...
...f a friend Wei-Chen has been to him. The two finally
meet up on again, with Jin eventually apologizing to Wei-Chen on page 231. (American Born
While Jin does recognize the fact that he gave up who he was to please other people, one
cannot blame him for wanting to feel accepted. At the very least, the blame should not solely rest
on Jin‟s shoulders. Instead, racism should be blamed for creating many of his problems. As a
story, American Born Chinese makes the reader aware of how it feels to witness racism.
Additionally, it serves to illustrate what can happen to people when the pressure to conform
becomes high—and individual can ultimately lose who he/she is as a result of trying to please
others. At the very least, though, by book‟s end Jin seems to realize what he can do to have a
better life going forward: be who he is, and stay friends with Wei-Chen.
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