American Born Chinese Essay

622 Words 3 Pages
Transformation in American Born Chinese In the American Born Chinese, Gene Yang presents the theme of transformation and identity through the two foils, Jin Wang and Wei Chen Sun’s, shared symbolic transformer toys.
During the introduction to Jin’s story arc, Yang punctuates an old Chinese parable on adaptation with depictions of a young Jin fiddling with a red transformer, immediately establishing the transformer as a symbol of change. Following that instance, Yang illustrates the early life of Jin and three other Chinese American boys where both the cartoons and action figures revolved around a central transformer motif, further emphasizing the unifying quality of the theme of transformation. Interestingly, after an old Chinese herbalist
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However, Wei Chen then sits down and takes out his own transformer, prompting the interest of Jin, and unlike Jin’s red transformer car, Wei Chen’s orange toy changes into a monkey. Here, Yang strategically reveals two transformers contrasting in both their initial figurine’s color and form and their ultimate outcome, emphasizing their union only by their common ability to transform. Thus, the author seems to suggest a universal desire to evolve, albeit not to a consistent final goal. Indeed, in the final panel of the chapter, Jin and Wei Chen begin their friendship quietly in the background of two white boys playing football, again establishing transformation as a link between everyone (40). Even so, a further scrutinization of the car vs monkey dynamic exposes a more complicated character analysis. Wei Chen’s monkey transformer serves as an indicator of his true monkey identity and suggests self-acceptance intertwined with transformation, and all of his transformations are then built upon this initial foundation of identity. On the other hand, Jin Wang’s car transformer represents the absurd—and futile—quest to completely change one’s

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