Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Donald Duk tells a thought-provoking story of a fifth-generation Chinese American boy, Donald Duk, who awakens from the trauma caused by a racial stereotype perpetuated by the majority culture and decides to challenge it. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the events in the novel are related from a perspective authentically Chinese American and in a language uniquely fast-paced, humorous, and witty. Skillfully incorporated into these events are history, surrealistic dreams, psychological probings, and social realism. As with any other literary work with racial issues as its subject matter, this novel will inevitably cause some interesting discussions among its readers on such topics as racial identity and stereotypes, acculturation and assimilation, uniformity and diversity.

Donald Duk is troubled by his name. People laugh at him, thinking that he is named after the Disney cartoon character. He soon learns to deal with them, taking them by surprise by joining them in laughing at his name. Yet, there is another problem that he cannot get rid of with laughter—his identity as a Chinese American. Repeatedly, he has heard people at school and in the media claim that Chinese Americans are traditionally timid and passive, introverted and unassertive; therefore, they lack the very qualities that are thought to constitute heroism and a pioneering spirit in the United States. Believing what he has been told, Donald lives in a state of self-contempt and self-rejection, with a...

(The entire section is 609 words.)