Study Guide

American Born Chinese Appearances

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Appearances in American Born Chinese are what drive the entire plot of the book. The book hinges on some key twists, all of which involve the making and unmaking of the Chinese appearance. You have Danny, a white boy who we find out is actually the fantasy alter-ego of Chinese American Jin. Then you have Chin-Kee, the ultimate stereotype of a Chinese person, who literally has his appearance knocked off of him at the end of the book. Appearances are what enable these characters to undergo their necessary transformations.

Questions About Appearances

  1. How do Chin-Kee's looks relate to the way he appears (as in introduced) in the book?
  2. How do the deceptive appearances of the characters drive the plots of the book?
  3. What is the effect of seeing Danny's appearance next to Chin-Kee's appearance?
  4. What kinds of appearances does this book seem to support?

Chew on This

You shouldn't change your appearance because it's who you are.

Your appearance is important because it determines how other people treat you and, thus, is a way for you to define yourself.

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