Study Guide

Dragonwings Foreignness and 'The Other'

By Laurence Yep

Foreignness and 'The Other'

Dragonwings is a story about Moon Shadow's experience adapting to the new circumstances of life in America. One important question the book puts forth is, how can a person find a sense of belonging when he's constantly made to feel foreign? This idea of feeling foreign is not only a figurative alienation (in the sense that Moon Shadow is not used to being treated differently because of his heritage, for example), but a geographical change and legal label. It is helpful to remember that Chinese immigrants in America were legally considered aliens ineligible for citizenship at this time..

Questions About Foreignness and 'The Other'

  1. How has the Tang people's village been set up to keep people from feeling foreign?
  2. What are the different ways in which Moon Shadow reacts when people treat him differently based on his looks?
  3. How does the language difference make fitting into America more challenging for Moon Shadow?
  4. How do Moon Shadow's ideas about "demons" change?
  5. Does Moon Shadow ever feel foreign to himself?

Chew on This

Moon Shadow learns that demons are not so different from Tang people through his close friendship to Miss Whitlaw and Robin.

Moon Shadow believes that demons and Tang people are different because the authorities make it that way, which not even Miss Whitlaw can do anything about.