American Born Chinese Summary

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese is a graphic novel written by Gene Luen Yang. It follows three main storylines that converge in the end. Each one focuses on a character who feels judged. The story features many Chinese stereotypes and insults prevalent in America throughout the twentieth century.

The first plot is about the monkey king who is insulted by other rulers and decides to prove that he's better than they think. He practices kung fu, increases his abilities, and then shows off his skills. His feelings of superiority lead him to rename himself the Great Sage. When he visits Tze-Yo-Tzuh, the creator of all tries to tell the monkey king that he should be content with just being a monkey, but the monkey king refuses. As punishment for his poor choices, Tze-Yo-Tzuh buries the monkey king under a mountain of rock. Five hundred years later Wong Lai-Tsao explains that he can free himself by reducing himself back to his original size. After he is freed, he send his son Wei-Chen on a journey to become a mortal for forty years and stay free of vice. The monkey king keeps an eye on his son and his son's friend Jin by disguising himself as Chin-kee.

In the second plot, Jin is a young Chinese American who doesn't fit in at school. He befriends Wei-Chen who immigrates to America from Taiwan. Wei-Chen goes out with Suzy and eventually Jin works up the courage to ask out Amelia. Then Amelia's friend Greg asks Jin to stop dating Amelia, which makes him wish he were white. When he wakes up, he finds that he is white, so he renames himself Danny, which leads to the third plotline.

Danny is in high school and changes schools each year after his cousin Chin-kee comes to visit him and completely embarrasses him. Chin-kee represents all of the popular Chinese racial stereotypes, such as mixing up his l and r sounds, singing "She Bangs" and peeing in someone's Coke. Danny becomes so angry with Chin-kee's embarrassing behavior that he punches him in the face. This punch makes his head fly off and reveals the head of the monkey king. Once the monkey king's form is revealed, he also reveals Danny's true form by turning him back into Jin. The monkey king explains that Wei-Chen had failed his test by lying to Jin's mom and then decided he didn't want to live a virtuous life any longer, so he took off. Jin decided to wait at a nearby Chinese restaurant every night until finally one night Wei-Chen returned. The two boys talked and became friends once more.

The moral of the story is to be comfortable with who you are, to not make fun of people due to their ethnicities, and to accept people from all backgrounds as your friends.

Related Links:

American Born Chinese Quiz
American Born Chinese Quotes
American Born Chinese Part I Summary
American Born Chinese Part I Quiz
American Born Chinese Part II Quiz
American Born Chinese Part III Quiz
American Born Chinese Part II Summary
American Born Chinese Part III Summary
American Born Chinese Important Characters
Literature Summaries

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