Form and Content
F.O.B. opens with a prologue: Thoroughly Americanized Dale defines “F.O.B.” as “Fresh Off the Boat”—a derogatory label for Chinese immigrants who are unfamiliar with the American way of life. Desiring inclusion in American society, these immigrants fail to achieve seamless integration into mainstream culture because of their incomplete understanding of cultural patterns. F.O.B.’s also fall short of total Americanization through their inability to relinquish their dependence on the Chinese American community.
Act 1 opens in Grace’s family restaurant; Grace is struggling to wrap a box in tape. Steve enters, rich and confident that he is desirable to any Chinese woman. Grandly identifying himself as the warrior god Gwan Gung, Steve orders Grace to serve him. Grace refuses, announcing that she is Fa Mu Lan, the mythical woman warrior. As events fail to comply with his carefully formulated plans, Steve grows confused. He tries—and fails—to gain possession of Grace’s mysterious box.
Dale arrives to join Grace and Steve for dinner; Dale and Steve soon begin a series of competitions and verbal skirmishes. When Steve invites Grace to go dancing after dinner, Dale immediately takes offence at what he interprets as presumptuous behavior from an upstart immigrant. The situation worsens when Steve dumps hot sauce on Dale’s food. Dale retaliates by emptying the bottle of hot sauce onto Steve’s plate. They begin an eating...
(The entire section is 448 words.)