Chin-Kee: a startling caricature of negative Chinese stereotypes

This panel is on page 50.


In American Born Chinese, the prominent themes of racial stereotypes, particularly American stereotypes of the Chinese and other East Asian ethnicities are conveyed in the panel above. In this novel, the primary example of these stereotypes is Chin-Kee,- a startling caricature of negative Chinese stereotypes. He is Danny’s larger-than-life Chinese cousin who, to Danny’s embarrassment, comes to visit every year. As shown in the panel above, Chin-Kee wears antiquated Chinese clothing, the tradition Qing Dynasty queue hairstyle and he literally has the stereotypical “yellow skin”, buck teeth, and eyes squinting so tightly that the pupils cannot be seen. Chin-Kee’s name also sounds like the ethnic insult “Chinky” when said aloud. All of these physical stereotypes of the Chinese are directly conveyed through the physical image of Chin-Kee. The icon in the panel above is Chin-Kee, because he represents all the stereotypes Gene Luen Yang believes Americans have of Chinese people.

Furthermore, in the panel above many stereotypes of Chinese people can be emphasized through Chin-Kee words, “SUCH A PLETTY AMELLICAN GIRL WITH BOUNTIFUL AMELLICAN BOSOM! MUST BIND FEET AND BEAR CHIN-KEE’S CHILDREN.” The author places an emphasis on the way Chin-Kee speaks by purposefully changing the r’s to l’s, to display the stereotypical notion that Chinese people can’t speak English properly and have an accent. The phrases “bind feet” and “bear Chin-Kee’s children” exaggerates the old culture of China and again, highlights the stereotype American people have on Chinese culture, believing that all Chinese women must bind their feet and have children. Gene Luen Yang utilizes the caption of the panel above to highlight the stereotype that Chinese people are overly-loud and obnoxious. The facial expressions of Danny and Amelia display fear and embarrassment of Chin-Kee.

Overall, the panel above conveys the novel’s central theme of racial stereotypes, and particularly how American people portray the Chinese. Gene Luen Young effectively portrays these stereotypes of the Chinese through the caricature of Chin-kee and captions.


4 thoughts on “Chin-Kee: a startling caricature of negative Chinese stereotypes

  1. Hi Mynn,
    I really agree with your analysis of this scene! I found it interesting that the author decided to incorporate this aspect of the story — the exaggerated images and speech. I understand, to some extent, that this is to show how Americans may view Chinese people as, but what do you think was the underlying idea behind this artistic choice? Was it to show that not all Chinese stereotypes are true?

  2. Hey, Mynn, you did a really good job with your analysis. The panel you choose really shows a stereotype that is well known, that Chinese people can’t pronounce words correctly. The panel also talks about a Chinese tradition (bind feet). Which is very unpopular and weird to hear.

  3. It is very interesting that the author chose to highlight the fact that at some point Chinese people would have binding the feet of wives as a custom. A reader that does not know the specifics would automatically associate Chinese culture with this negative reference. Very persuasive and clear response!

  4. Exaggeration of Chinese stereotypes into one creepily humorous character is something I found very interesting while reading ABC, which I am glad you talked about in your analysis.

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