Reading Reflection on American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 611 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Words: 611|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020


Table of contents

  1. Plot Summary
  2. Analysis
  3. Personal Reflection
  4. Themes and Societal Implications
  5. Conclusion

"American Born Chinese" by Gene Luen Yang is a compelling graphic novel that combines elements of realistic fiction and fantasy to explore the themes of identity, self-acceptance, and stereotypes. This essay aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the novel while also reflecting on personal experiences and broader societal implications. The novel consists of three interwoven storylines that converge to deliver a powerful message about embracing one's identity in a diverse world.

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Plot Summary

The novel opens with the tale of the Monkey King, a deity who is refused entry to a party due to his simian appearance. This narrative explores themes of discrimination, exclusion, and the desire for acceptance. The Monkey King's journey towards self-realization serves as a metaphor for the larger themes that run through the entire novel.

The second storyline introduces us to Jin Wang, a second-generation Chinese immigrant struggling to fit into his predominantly white American school. His friendship with Wei-Chen, a Taiwanese classmate, and his budding romance with Amelia, an American girl, are marred by prejudice and stereotypes perpetuated by his classmates. This narrative raises questions about cultural assimilation and the challenges faced by those who straddle multiple cultural identities.

The third narrative follows Danny, a white American teenager, who deals with the annual embarrassment caused by his cousin Chin-Kee's visit. Chin-Kee embodies offensive Chinese stereotypes concerning appearance, accent, academics, and dietary habits. This part of the novel satirizes the harmful impact of racial stereotypes and the burden of cultural expectations.


The novel's strength lies in its ability to weave these three seemingly disparate narratives into a cohesive exploration of identity. The Monkey King's struggle for acceptance mirrors Jin Wang's journey in a predominantly white school, where he grapples with his Chinese heritage and the desire to fit in. The character of Danny, who is revealed to be Jin Wang, highlights the internal conflict experienced by individuals torn between cultural identities.

Gene Luen Yang employs several storytelling techniques that enhance the novel's impact. Notably, the third narrative, featuring Danny and Chin-Kee, is presented as a sitcom with laugh tracks and applause. This clever stylistic choice underscores the absurdity of racial stereotypes and invites readers to critically examine their own biases.

Personal Reflection

Reading "American Born Chinese" prompted me to reflect on my own experiences as a Japanese individual with a diverse cultural background. Like Jin Wang, I have never lived as an all-Japanese person and have shaped my identity through experiences in various places. This novel made me question how I embrace my Japanese identity and the extent to which societal expectations and stereotypes influence that identity.

The characters in the novel are relatable, and their struggles resonate with readers of diverse backgrounds. As a student in the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, I am constantly exposed to different people and cultures. This novel deepened my understanding of the challenges faced by those navigating multiple cultural identities and the harmful impact of stereotypes.

Themes and Societal Implications

"American Born Chinese" addresses pertinent themes that are increasingly relevant in our globalized world. The novel highlights the importance of self-acceptance and the need to confront stereotypes and prejudice. In our current unit on World Religions in Individuals and Societies (I&S), we explored stereotypes and their dangers, making this novel a valuable addition to our study.

The book serves as a powerful tool for developing global awareness and fostering empathy towards those who grapple with identity issues. In an age of increasing diversity, understanding and dismantling stereotypes is crucial for promoting inclusivity and cultural appreciation.


In conclusion, "American Born Chinese" is a thought-provoking and socially relevant graphic novel that delves into the complexities of identity, self-acceptance, and the impact of stereotypes. Its three interwoven narratives provide a multifaceted exploration of these themes, making it a valuable read for individuals aged 13 to 18 and beyond.

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The novel encourages readers to reflect on their own identities and the role of stereotypes in society. Through its compelling characters and innovative storytelling techniques, it delivers a powerful message about the importance of embracing one's true self in an increasingly diverse world.


  1. Yang, G. L. (2006). American Born Chinese. First Second.
  2. Khorana, M. (2011). Ethnicity and Identity in Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(5), 353-362.
  3. Liu, J. H. (2016). Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese as a Cultural Critique. In F. T. Wu (Ed.), Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art (pp. 82-95). McFarland.
  4. Shen, L. (2013). Racial and cultural identity development in the graphic novels of Gene Luen Yang. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57(6), 477-487.
  5. Eng, D. L. (2010). The good, the bad and the ugly: The rise of the Asian American graphic novel. The Journal of Popular Culture, 43(3), 456-476.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Reading Reflection On American Born Chinese By Gene Luen Yang. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from
“Reading Reflection On American Born Chinese By Gene Luen Yang.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
Reading Reflection On American Born Chinese By Gene Luen Yang. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 14 Jun. 2024].
Reading Reflection On American Born Chinese By Gene Luen Yang [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Jun 14]. Available from:
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