Character Analysis of Chin-Kee in American Born Chinese
A significant knot for the entire story Racism is alive and well – developed in almost every time in America. According to Michael Omi, “racism is a pervasive feature in our lives, one that is both overt and inferential” (Omi 462). This is always one of the hottest subjects that make us considered in many different opinions. American Born Chinese, one of the graphic novels that impressively presented how all characters overcome all racist situations and find a way out to solve all these things.
Gene Luen Yang was using the original epic of China “Journey to the West”, recreated a different story about a Monkey King. He plays an important role in this graphic novel and contributes to build a stereotype of the Asian – American. His role is what helps Danny, his white cousin, realize a true person inside and find a way out for ending this situation. Using Chin – Kee character as a typical Chinese stereotype leads to many contrary opinions. However, Chin – Kee is an important character throughout these stories and reappears in a deep exploration of Asian-American adolescents for finding their true position in society. Therefore, Chin – Kee is not completely offensive and does not deserve to be condemned.
The use of Chin – Kee demonstrating a typical Chinese people in America is an interested example of Gene Yang. Chin – Kee role is that helping Jin Wang (Danny) find his true identity. At the beginning of story, Chin – Kee was played as a Monkey King who was so excited about the heaven party. However, a tragedy happened when all these gods laughed at him because of his different appearance. Although he was “committed disciple of the arts of kung-fu” and “mastered the four major heavenly disciplines” and can control a kingdom, the Flower Fruit Mountain, people still pointed out at him (Yang 10). He claimed that he was different from them just because he is a monkey with bare feet. He was laughed at by all gods at the party and felt embarrassed for being a monkey. Why does Yang not use any other animals to present his theme? Because a monkey is related to Chinese culture of twelve zodiac animals of a year. One of these animals are respected and believe in them as a God brings back lucky and health in every year. In the other narrative by Yang, Chin – Kee is Danny’s cousin and comes to the United States to visit his cousin. The first page “Everyone Ruvs Chin – Kee” was presented in a sitcom construction (Yang 43). Its construction was so popular in America in the 1990s to make films to enhance curiosity and interest of audiences, the title introduces Chin – Kee as a character which affects pop culture America. Moreover, Chin – Kee was described as a typical Chinese person with slanted eyes, yellow skin, Chinese costume and his accent “Harro Amellica”. This is a transposition between “R” and “L” that almost Chinese people are struggle in their pronouncing. Because Chin – Kee represents all the comical stereotypes that haunt Chinese – Americans, he also affects back to audiences about racist culture in America. He was mocked and laughed at his outside by other American’s classmates.
It can easily be seen that throughout those stories, Chin – Kee always behaves by making his cousin embarrassed. He wanted to bind the feet of Danny’s attractive study partner. He tried to answer all the questions these professors gave out. However, at the end of the story, Chin – Kee explained that Jin Wang to find his real person, understanding our roots come from: “I came to serve as your conscience – as a signpost to your soul” (Yang 221). Jin Wang was affected by people around him because he is the second Asian student in class. Sometimes he thought about himself that what he did wrong that leaded people not satisfied about him. Only just because he is an Asian – American. With that help from Monkey King, Jin Wang now accepted himself. He is and will be a Chinese stereotype. We cannot choose our background, but we can choose how we live later on. Chin – Kee plays an important role that “every last detail about him, straight out of American pop culture”, said by Yang. In my opinion, most of audience’s compliment is that Chin – Kee should be a funny character, he must be a serious stereotype. Chin – Kee represents everything that Chinese do want to talk with: the idea of using “chinky” Chinese. Using the word “chinky” and the name of character Chin – Kee shows that they are related to each other.
Another example of William Hung’s American Idol performance, it is a recognition of all the Asian – American men, according to Yang. His appearance is the same as Chin – Kee with buck teeth and slanted eyes as well as with the way he talks. According to Omi, his opinion is that “popular culture deals with the symbolic realm of social life, the images which it creates, represents, and disseminates contribute to the overall racial climate” (Omi 463). That leads to a statement that “All Asians look alike” (Omi 467). His statement was not completely true about Asian people. Every country has their own typical stereotype and different cultures. We are separated and are different. Like Chinese and Vietnamese people, our appearance might look like the same, but we talk and write in completely different ways. Thus, Omi’s statement only true when based on a typical stereotype of Asian people in America. Back to Hung’s performance, he cannot sing and just comes there to show that he did his best, and he will not regret for what he done. His performance was so famous and once again Hung represents for typical Chinese stereotype living in America. In addition, Chin – Kee answered all questions in class to show that he knew everything. That action once again leads us think about a theory that Asian – Americans are smart.
Another offensive action was that he peed in Danny friend’s coke and claimed this was a joke of Chinese people “Me Chinese, me play joke! Me go pee-pee in his coke” (Yang 118). This action was so hilarious that made Danny has a strong embarrassment over association with Chin – Kee “embarrassing the crap out of me. By the he leaves, no one thinks of me as Danny anymore. I’m Chin – Kee’s cousin” (Yang 127). With using the image of Chin – Kee to point out his opinion about racism in America, Yang pointed out the concept throughout the book is that having a judgement on other people, always happens every time and everywhere in daily life. Any good things inside a human, people cannot realize it, they are just curious about your backgrounds and concern how your private life is. In this graphic novel, Yang taught us about a friendship and how to keep the relationship be stable. It is really hard to find anyone who spend their time to indicate your fault and show you how to solve it. Chin – Kee was a person that reconnected the relationship between Wei – Chen and Jin – Wang. Chin – Kee was being helpful, to atone for his past mistakes.
Everyone has their own past mistakes and hurts, the only way to get out of it is just forget about the past and keep moving forward. On your road, you will see many different types of people, some people are bad or nice or even not care at all. We cannot just satisfy all people that we met, we definitely lost ourselves. All we have to do is just being who we truly are. Sometimes, we may lose by other luxury and sweet things; however, if we know our position, we must be happier than spending whole life for ruining things that is forever not belong to us. If Chin – Kee was just engrossed in changing his appearance, maybe right now he was not a Monkey anymore: “I would have saved myself from five hundred years’ imprisonment beneath a mountain of rock had I only realized how good it is to be a monkey” (Yang 223).
In conclusion, Chin-Kee’s main purpose is not just to make audience debate and have a stereotype about our racist of Chinese people; he is really an important character to force Danny back to his true position no matter happens, and life will be, a “Chinese American Jin”.
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