The Born Identity

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Reggie Aranas
Prof. Quigley
EWRT 211
2/6/13
The Born Identity
Have you ever asked your own self; that you don’t know who you really are? That is a question we should ask ourselves at least once in our lives. The graphic novel, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, tells the story of characters trying to fit in, and fighting their inner self. What’s unique about this novel is that it has three seemingly different storylines, but actually is in direct correlation to each other once you read until the end. One of the few things that Yang covers throughout this whole book is racism, discrimination, and stereotypes. But another important detail that Yang gives to the audience is identity. The three protagonists struggle to fight their “demon” inside them, and to find their true self. The three characters in their respective story are all discriminated against in their own way. As a result, they strive to become something different, but are still blind to understand their true identity. The graphic novel serves as a reminder that we must accept who and what we are above all else.

In the first story of the graphic novel, the reader is introduced to the author’s version of the legendary Monkey King. He was born of a rock and fought off the evil Tiger Spirit, and became the monkeys’ king. At first he was a peaceful ruler by keeping things in order, “The Monkey King ruled with a firm but gentle hand (pg. 10),” until he used his heavenly senses and decided to go to a party in the heavens. Though he is a deity himself, he was completely embarrassed because he is still a mere monkey. As a result of embarrassment, he attacked everyone. The embarrassment in turn became a huge turning point in his life. In the next panels, the emotions of the Monkey King are expressed by his face. You can see the anger and sadness within him. He doesn’t want to be called a monkey, but to be something that everyone wants to know him as. He seemingly wants respect from everyone. Later,...
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