Study Guide

American Born Chinese Betrayal

By Gene Luen Yang

Betrayal

[2.66-2.69]

Wei-Chen is the new kid at school, and what does Jin do? Reject him. Doesn't seem too cool to us, though his actions do bring up a question: What responsibility does a person of one race have to another person of the same race?

[3.24-27]

Chin-Kee visits Danny, and he immediately comes on to Melanie by making all sorts of lewd suggestions. Which, of course, totally horrifies and embarrasses Danny. Is embarrassing your cousin a form of betrayal? Or is it Danny's problem for disliking his own race?

[4.1]

All the monkeys are slipping off their trees in Monkey Kingdom. Why? Because the Monkey King, after getting bounced from the party in the heavens for not wearing shoes, is forcing his monkeys to wear shoes. Not great if you're a regular monkey just trying to eat some fruit off a tree, but that's what happens when you have social climbing, wannabe-god for your ruler.

[6.3-6.40]

Chin-Kee goes with Danny to school, which basically means that Danny has to put up with all sorts of embarrassing behavior, like Chin-Kee acting like a know-it-all in every class or Chin-Kee peeing into Steve the jock's Coke. But why is Chin-Kee really embarrassing? It's the way he looks in his Fu Manchu outfit, with his buckteeth and slanted eyes. It's also the way he sounds—Chinese. Chin-Kee's body is already a form of betrayal to Danny because Chin-Kee shows where Danny's roots are. That said, what loyalties is Danny supposed to have toward a cousin like Chin-Kee?

[6.85-92]

Okay this part sort of puzzles us. Steve the jock is trying to reassure Danny that Oliphant High isn't like other high schools and that people are actually really nice. Then he offers to buy Danny a Coke (a nice gesture, right?), but instead of taking Steve up on the offer, Danny gets all defensive and says to Steve "'What, so I can pee in it?'" Then he walks off while Steve is barfing. So… what's up with Danny? Why is he mean to Steve when Steve is nice to him?

[7.64-7.69]

This section is all about Wong Lai-Tsao's absolute devotion and loyalty to Tze-Yo-Tzuh. A demon spears him and puts him on a roasting pit, but Wong Lai-Tsao is totally chill and focused on the mission of convincing Monkey to free himself so that he can become Wong Lai-Tsao's disciple. Now that's some willpower.

[7.103-107]

Monkey's changed. He offers to seek medical help for Wong Lai-Tsao's wounds, and he also finally rids himself of his ridiculous shoes when Wong Lai-Tsao asks him to. This is Monkey returning to his true self—a total shift from the chapter when he forces his monkeys to wear shoes.

[8.1-8.4]

Jin's starting to act like a butt, and he asks Wei-Chen to lie to his parents for him while he's on his date with Amelia. True—this kind of stuff happens all the time between friends, but then that makes us wonder: is asking your friend to lie for you a form of betrayal?

[8.109-8.124]

This is the big betrayal in the book. Jin kisses Suzy, Wei-Chen's girlfriend, which leads to Wei-Chen punching Jin and walking away from their friendship. What's Jin thinking? Why does he kiss Suzy in the first place anyway? He's not even attracted to her… Or is he? And even if he were, does that matter? He still broke the number one rule between guys (and friends in general): don't try to steal another guy's girl.

[9.130-9.136]

Jin dreams about becoming white and—voila—he becomes white. But instead of freaking out, he's excited and names his new persona Danny… which, if you ask us, is definitely an example of betraying your race. That said, isn't it his own body? Can't Jin do whatever he likes to it? Is it wrong to do things like dye your hair blonde or wear blue contact lenses if you're not white?