How do two of the works you have studied portray the struggle to be understood?
Introduction & Thesis Statement:
The Odyssey is an epic poem composed by Homer, the story is told of the Greek hero Odysseus and the different dilemmas he encountered while traveling back home to Ithaca after the Trojan war. American Born Chinese is a novel by Gene Luen Yang, it illustrates about the story of a first-generation immigrant teenager: Jin Wan, a boy who come from an Asian background but moved to a suburb white neighborhood. The story depicts on his social challenges such as fitting in at his new school, embracing the American culture and denial of his own cultural heritage. Both texts portray the main character’s struggle in trying to overcome challenges in different settings. The authors utilizes different literary devices to help the readers visualize those events the character’s encounters.
Text 1: American Born Chinese
Device 1: Symbolism (Monkey King’s Shoe)
The Monkey King wears human clothes at the beginning of the story, but it was the lack of footwear that did not qualify him of the entrance to the banquet. The Monkey King is still just a monkey if he’s not wearing shoes, the shoe is symbolized as the ultimate cover up to hide one’s true identity. (P.55) Once the King returns back home, he orders all the monkeys to wear shoes. A symbol of Monkey King’s desire to leave the monkey-hood behind and trying to become a whole new identity.
Device 2: Tone and Dictions (A Victim of Words)
(P.37) We observe Jin-Wang being approached by a classmate but instead Jin-Wang rudely pushes him away powerful verbal emphasizing his social feelings of being inferior and intruded by someone who shares the same cultural identity as him. In the following panel, Jin Wang castigates about Wei-Chen coming close as well as speaking the language Chinese in a white suburb environment “You’re in America. Speak English.” This assertive tone established in this phrase along with the diction “American” and “English” reveals Jin-Wang’s willingness to deny his own cultural heritage and be hostile towards Wei-Chen. And this hostile behavior only reassembles and indicated the growing struggle of Jin-Wang trying to fit in with the American society.
Device 3: Physical features, Emotion Figures & Expressions (One’s thoughts and feelings are often expressed by their emotions shown on the outside)
In denial of his true cultural identity, Jin’s/Dany’s worst fears come alive as his cousin Chin-Kee showed up at his school. (P.113) Chin-Kee is characterized with yellow skin, slanted eyes, long queue, buck teeth and terrible English. It represents all the ridiculous stereotypes that haunts all Chinese Americans. Dany shown an excessive amount of facial expression such as clenching their teeth, frowning and red skin to the behaviors of Chin-Kee as Chin-kee is bringing shame upon him and possibly exposing his cover and revealing his true identity to the school. We see that Jin-Wang continues to reject his Chinese identity.
Text 2: The Odyssey
Device 1: Epic similes
“The attackers struck like eagles, crook-clawed, hook-beaked, swooping down from a mountain ridge to harry smaller birds that skim across the flatland cringing under the clouds but the eagles plunge in fury, rip their lives out-hopeless, never a chance of flight or rescue-and people love the sport-so the attackers routed suitors headlong down the hall, wheeling into the slaughter, slashing left and right and grisly creams broke from skulls cracked open-the whole floor awash with blood. “
- The battle between Odysseus and the suitors.
- Odysseus and the Telemachus are the eagles, a symbol of nobility and strength.
- The description captures Odysseus’s anger, the panic of the suitors, the gore of killing.
Struggle, Odysseus grasped the rock with both of his hands and clung there, groaning, till the great wave passed. That one he thus escaped, but the back-flowing water struck him again, still struggling, and swept him out to sea. And just as, when a polyp is torn from out of its bed, about its suckers clustering pebbles cling, so on the rocks pieces o skin were stripped from his strong hands.
- Odysseus’s obstacles/challenges faced while returning home,
- From escaping the cave to swept out to the sea and clenching on for dear life.
Device 2: Lens of Perspective
I took my spear and sharp sword, and I ran up from the ship to higher ground, to look for signs of humans, listening for voices. I climbed up to a crag, and I saw smoke rising from Circe’s Palace, form the earth up through the woods and thickets. I considered if I should go down and investigate, since I had seen smoke.” (p146-153)
- First person perspective gives the readers a better view to the plot and events that is happening to the characters.
- “Look for signs of humans, listening for voices” Odysseus’s once battling the challenges and trying to look for solutions “Climbed up to a crag” to return back home.
“The Odyssey” and “American Born Chinese” presents the struggle to be understood by revealing the challenges that lays in front of our characters and how they manage to overcome them. ABC focuses on the internal conflicts of Jin-Wang’s struggle to find the right identity for himself while The Odyssey walks us through a series of events that Odysseus has to fight through during his return back to Ithaca.