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“Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang

There are two most likely reasons why the author is telling this story. To begin with, since it is a semi-autobiographical drama, the events described in it may be divided into those that happened to Hwang and those that did not. Thus, creating this play is a unique way for the author to, first, play with his own identity in his construct as the playwright. Second, put his memories into words; and third, mock himself and society’s flaws, which may lead to people’s awareness and the correction of vices. What I learned from this play is that appearance does not always matter or define people. According to Hwang, “never let anyone tell you that what you look like is who you are” (71). I can feel this line, and now this is my motto and one of the basic rules for life that I will use when treating people or not being treated nicely by them.

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Several significant themes are discussed in the Yellow Face, including racial discrimination and stereotypes and self-definition and identity. First, this play is an in-depth exploration of whether race is indeed crucial and what role it plays in American culture. Essentially, the author does not provide a final answer to these questions but leaves the audience with a prompt: “This is America – where race shouldn’t matter” (Hwang 72). Second, identity and self-definition is also vital theme of the play since their search was the reason for its creation. From the very beginning to the end of the Yellow Face, the protagonist and the author himself try to understand themselves and their essence.

By questioning himself as a playwright, a man, and a member of society, DHH partly finds peace in his soul. However, Hwang ends the play with words that imply that the process of self-definition is not over: “and I go back to work, searching for my face” (79).

Certain social issues are also addressed in this play. Apart from portraying discrimination and stereotypes based on race and nationality, the playwright decides to explore people’s habit of judging others based on what they see, which, of course, is usually connected with racial prejudices. A vital phrase is repeated several times throughout the play: “it doesn’t matter what someone looks like on the outside” (Hwang 72). This is the basic rule that all society members must learn and apply every day when communicating with other people because neither race nor general appearance is important. Hence, if someone is a good and honest person, they should be treated nicely because of their inner characteristics, notwithstanding how they look.

I have always known that racial discrimination is almost everywhere, and even art is not free from conflicts and fears based on stereotypes and inequality. Yellow Face affirmed and strengthened this perspective and demonstrated to me a situation I could never imagine. Though I knew that some European actors and actresses star in films, the events of which that take place in Persia or other countries, whose native residents have a completely different appearance, I did not know it also happens in theatre.

Nevertheless, the author supported my belief that race should not matter because it is something that does not depend on one’s preference: “Funny thing about race. You don’t get to choose” (Hwang 72). Thus, people have to be judged according to their deeds and thoughts. If this happens in the future, it will be much happier and more comfortable to live in communities where people may be of any nationalities yet treated and respected equally.

Work Cited

Hwang, David Henry. Yellow Face. American Theatre, 2008.

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