American Born Chinese, by Gene Kuen Yang, is a graphic novel consisting of three intertwined tales about the lengths people will go to in order to fit in and belong.
One such character, a deity called the Monkey King, decides to change himself by learning kung fu and wearing shoes so that he will no longer be identified as a monkey. He wants to be seen as equal to the other gods and goddesses in Heaven (referring to himself as "The Great Sage, Equal of Heaven") and become someone other than who he truly is—a monkey.
It all started when he was unable to attend the party with the other gods and goddesses because he was a monkey and wasn't wearing shoes. So, it was natural for him to think that shoes were important in helping him fit in. In this way, the shoes are symbolic of his desire for acceptance. As monkeys do not wear shoes, he believes that if he wears them and is seen to be wearing them (much like a mask) he will be taken seriously as "The Great Sage, Equal of Heaven."
Of course, simply wearing shoes does not convince anyone that he is not a monkey, particularly when out of pure frustration he physically assaults everyone who doesn't agree. It's not until God and the monk point out that being a monkey is awesome that he relents and takes off the shoes, finally enjoying being himself.