Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 186

F.O.B. is a play by David Henry Hwang that highlights the tension between "F.O.B." (Fresh off the Boat), usually pronounced as "fobs," and "A.B.C." (American-born Chinese) people. The most blatant theme in the play is the discrimination against Chinese immigrants by Chinese-Americans. This is illustrated by Dale, an A.B.C., who strongly dislikes Chinese immigrants. The latter is represented by Steve, who recently immigrated to California. The second theme is the "warrior" spirit of Chinese people, which based on Chinese mythology.

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The warriors of Chinese folklore and history are ancestral spirits guiding modern Chinese people as they struggle to make a life in new lands. Another theme of the play is jealousy. Dale is jealous that his own cousin is attracted to Peter. In this context, it could be argued that a sub-theme is incestuous desire. However, the incestuous feelings Dale has for his cousin could be an analogy for the primitive and tribal instinct to protect one's lineage. In other words, Dale and his cousin are part of the A.B.C. family and Peter is an outsider.

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