The form of comics, or a graphic novel, allows combining text with images, making the narrative more alive and engaging. The use of pictures also helps to express the details of the meaning that could not be done so vividly by text alone. In this essay, one of the episodes of the graphic novel “American Born Chinese” by Jene Luen Yang will be analyzed, with the demonstration of the tools that help the readers to understand the meaning of the story.
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In the episode of the arrival to the new school of the protagonist, a Chinese boy Jin Wang, the topic is the position of a child that belongs to a racial minority among white people (Yang 37-48). The author demonstrates his adaptation to the new community and the attitude of the teachers and other children toward him. In the first picture, Jin’s teacher spells his name wrong and emphasizes his Chinese origin, although he was born in San-Francisco (Yang 37). Afterward, one of his mates immediately asks whether he eats dogs (Yang 38). These are the stereotypes about Chinese people, and they are represented by the text. However, the expressions of people’s faces and even their clothes, such as the face of Jin’s teacher with flashing star-like earrings and red lipstick, make an additional impression on the readers. Later, the story of the boy’s loneliness and difficulties at making friends is narrated through the pictures. The visual details continue to add the meaning that could not be perceived only through the text.
Thus, the purpose of this comic is to demonstrate public stereotypes about Chinese people and the challenges of the young Chinese in white American society. The assumed readers of this story are the youth, so the choice of the genre is wise, as the vivid form of a comic would have more impact on them than the simple text. In the context of a racially mixed audience, the message of the story could be clear, although not insulting anyone. This aim is successfully achieved by means of the depiction of people’s facial expressions, clothes, and postures.
Yang, Gene Luen. “American Born Chinese.” Fliphtml5.com. Web.