Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 300
F.O.B. (Fresh Off the Boat) is a look at the Chinese-American immigrant experience. The play has only three characters.
Dale: His parents were immigrants from China, making him a second-generation Chinese immigrant. He is well adapted to American culture. He is considered an A.B.C. (American Born Chinese.) Dale coins the term, F.O.B. and laughs at the idea of immigrants who try to hold on to their old ways of being while integrating into American society. He describes F.O.B.s as unattractive and stupid.
Grace: She is Dale’s cousin and was born in Taiwan. She moved to America quite awhile ago. She is closer to her Chinese roots. She works as a waitress at her parent’s restaurant while also going to school.
Steve: He is an F.O.B. from Hong Kong. He stirs up trouble between Grace and Dale as the two must make sense of their differing views on tradition. Dale disapproves of Steve for his lack of American identity. Steve and Grace end up going out and Dale is left alone.
A subplot takes place at the middle of the play. The characters play out a Chinese myth.
Fa Mu Lan (Mulan): She is a young girl who’s father died in war and she takes his place. She is played by Grace.
Gwan Gung: He is the Chinese god of warriors, writers, and prostitutes, and he is played by Steve. He enters the restaurant owned by Grace’s family. Dale, Steve (as Gwan Gung), and Grace (as Fa Mu Lan) all have dinner together and the boys sparse metaphorically. They test one another with hot sauce eating contests and witty words. Ultimately, Gwan Gung wins and leaves with Fa Mu Lan who remains faithful to her tradition.
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