American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang

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How does the Monkey King represent Jin's evolution in American Born Chinese?

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The story of the Monkey King in American Born Chinese serves as an allegory to Jin Wang's evolution, and the comparison is evident in the parallels between the two narratives.  The Monkey King begins his journey as a simple monkey who learns a variety of disciplines and is then elevated to the status of Monkey King.  After his rule, he becomes bored and thinks that being the Monkey King is beneath him and his abilities.  The Monkey King is punished for his attitude, yet he is able to redeem himself at the end of the story.  Similarly, Jin finds it difficult to accept his identity as a Chinese American boy and continually wants to be someone else.  At the end of the tale, readers learn that Jin and Danny are the same person, but Danny has been punished by Chin-Kee for not accepting his true identity.  At the end of the story, Jin is able to redeem himself just like the Monkey King.  The two stories revolve around the themes of identity and self-acceptance.

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