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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Frank Chin's novel Donald Duk tells of a Chinese-American boy who fights his Chinese heritage, wanting only to embrace his American side. The quotes which are important to the novel lie in his desire to assimilate completely into his "American-ness." In the end, he realizes that he does not need to abandon one identity in order to embrace the other.

Donald Duk does not like his name.

This quote is the second sentence of the novel. This quote's importance lies in the reader's recognition that the main character does not like who he is. Many readers will readily recognize the allusion to Disney's beloved, and American, character. Yet, the spelling of the last name is distinctly Chinese. This immediately illustrates the bringing together of two distinct identities: American and Chinese. That said, the quote also openly states that the character does not like his name. He may not even like who he is (as a Chinese-American). The placement of the American first name and Chinese last name could enlighten readers as to the character's preference for identification. He may desire to be identified as an American first and foremost.

I don't care if you are scared. Be as scared as you want to be, but don't look scared.

This quote is spoken by Donald's father, King Duk. After seeing Donald slouching, pouty, and wringing his hands, his father's advice is truly universal. Although he recognizes fear as being an honest emotion, he does not want Donald to come across to others as fearful. This piece of advice is universal in nature. Many reading the novel will find this to be something they can relate to (which is necessary for engagement and learning). Donald has been exiled from those he does not wish to be associated with (other Chinese) and bullied by those he wants to be like (Americans). He is at a point where he feels lost in his own identity, and his father's words are meant to offer encouragement. That said, King is an adult, and he is comfortable with his identity. Donald is not, and like many adolescents, he struggles to find his own place in the world.

The white sweatshirts and black pants make sense now.

While this quote may seem unimportant, the meaning it holds speaks to Donald's own recognition of identity. The white sweatshirts and black pants, worn by those inside the dragon, have a purpose. The white "reflects the light" from inside of the dragon. The black allows the wearers to be invisible and gives "the dragon flight." Readers should realize that two essentially polar opposites are used to work together to make the dragon what and who it is. Like his own heritage, Donald must accept both his Chinese and American sides. In order for him to be him, he must no longer throw aside either identity; instead, he must embrace them both fully.

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