American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang

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Student Question

What is the underlying message in American Born Chinese for modern readers?

Expert Answers

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Assuming that you mean readers of today, Gene Yang's message in American Born Chinese revolves around embracing one's identity.  In the novel, Jin is plagued by transformations because he does not accept himself as a Chinese boy in his new American environment.  He is faced with difficulty fitting into school, but he does not try to stand up for himself or realize that prejudice and discrimination are the problems of other people's ignorance.  Even when he is cast as "Danny," Jin still must deal with the manifestation of prejudice--his stereotypical cousin Chin-Kee.  In the end, Jin learns that he is a valuable person and that he should recognize this even in the face of adversity.  Through the novel, Yang offers this message to his reading audience.

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