Study Guide

American Born Chinese Versions of Reality

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Versions of Reality

You might want to look at this theme as more versions of fantasy rather than versions of reality because in American Born Chinese pretty much everyone is engaging in some type of fantasy, whether it's self-delusion or full-blown magic. The point? Reality is already made up of the fantastical, from the stereotypes that spew out of a typical TV sitcom to the mythical Monkey King who guides Jin to his best self. None of the characters can avoid the fantastical; in fact, part of our protagonists' journeys have to do with learning how to use fantasy to remake themselves into moral and ethical characters.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How does the old herbalist lady in Chinatown affect Jin's sense of reality?
  2. Why is the Monkey King so unsuccessful at recreating a new self who belongs with all the other deities?
  3. What is the purpose of the whole Danny/Chin-Kee storyline?
  4. What version of reality does the book seem to settle on at the end?

Chew on This

Power comes from the ability to turn fantasy into reality.

There are no versions of reality—there's only one reality, and everything else is just self-delusion.

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