What is the conflict in "China Boy"?What is the relationship between the stepmother and Kai Ting in China Boy?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several conflicts in the story. Kai Ting must deal with the death of his mother who had coddled him all of his life. This is an example of an internal conflict, where Kai Ting struggles to come to terms with losing the most important person in his life. All of a sudden, Kai Ting is thrust into the cold, cruel world when his father marries his stepmother. This is an example of a man vs. man conflict. His stepmother is cruel and abusive to all of her stepchildren. On the streets, Kai Ting has a conflict with the street-smart kids who beat him up on a regular basis. Overall, Kai Ting lives in an area that is prejudiced toward him because he's Chinese. This would be an example of man vs. society. Kai Ting's father sends him to the YMCA, and he's taught to box. He learns to trust his coaches, and with their encouragement, he's able to finally stand up to the biggest bully in his neighborhood. He doesn't win, and he still takes a beating, but he's able to inflict pain upon the bully. Kai Ting earns some respect from others, but most importantly, learns to respect himself.

Kai Ting's stepmother, Edna, is cold, cruel, and abusive. She doesn't allow Kai to stay in the house, throwing him out into the cold, cruel world to fend for himself. She starves him mentally and physically. She doesn't allow Chinese to be spoken or ancestral stories to be told. She makes the wicked stepmother in "Cinderella" look like Mary Poppins.

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China Boy

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