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Book Critique “Donald Duk” by Frank Chin Dissertation

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Updated: Jul 6th, 2022

Chin portrays a 12-year-old boy who possesses all the possibilities to subjugate and enhance the means of self-hate. This is elucidated at the start of the novel by the notion that Donald Duk hates his name because of being Chinese. Being Chinese American, Duk questions his identity to remain on the American side of the culture. Chin not only mentions throughout his novel that the boy hates his name for being ‘Chinese-American,’ but also the way the dominant white society perceives him in contempt of the ‘original’ American.

This is elaborated by the following words Chin writes about Donald, “Donald hates to see his friend pretend to be so nice to Chinese with stupid names like Duk” (Chin, 1997, p. 12). Chin’s honorary departure from the proper name not only depot ambivalent political results but often make him suffer at the hands of scorn and ridicule. While considering himself, a modified version of the Disney character not only challenges the boundaries of American culture, leaving no room for the Chinese American boy. But also indicates the white society’s reluctance to envision this boy in the paradigm of cultural screening. This way, society ratifies Donald Duk and excludes him from seeing in American disguise.

Critical evaluation of deformative reiteration suggests that Donald Duk, by turbulent symbolic norms, is in a continuous state of chaos. It is his own psychic stability and state of confusion that is threatened whenever he, as well as other Chinese, avoids him. He is comfortable adopting racial segregation where he himself is detached from the Chinese mainstream popular culture. What Chin wants to evaluate from his novel is the idea of self-rejection and disintegration at the expense of racialized subjectivity.

Chin has portrayed Donald as a symbol of psychic self-hatred that demonstrates a lack of racial self-respect, evident from the fact that all his relationships and loved ones are affected by his self-build frustration. Such an attitude elucidates that race and ethnicity have remained a significant issue that enables those requirements that students to learn while seeking new information and insights to which the American experience has not kept pace. Most students like Donald are unable to explain why they consider race as a logically valid concept, especially when they themselves think differently about racial hatred. Such limited access that helps maintain racial hierarchy induces internalized racism, which is evident in Donald’s character, for many students like him are often unaware of the hidden ways in which self-hatred is packaged as normal. The analysis of Donald for being a Chinese American student is uncomfortable for him because of many reasons. One reason is that he is being thought of as a ‘role minority,’ for which he feels frustrated and cheated.

The critical aspect of the novel is that Donald resists believing in the Chinese history and truth that is often understood and learned generation after generation. This indicates what Chin has tried to present in the form of popular culture, which is one means by which youth has gripped by the changes associated with modernization. Chin has shown a glimpse of the remaking of cultural forms in which Chinese culture has collided with the American one and has resulted in different constituencies. Such constituencies have readily identified the forgotten values through which Donald has processed and come to terms with the various aspects of what he understands as alienation.

Critics suggest that Chin has presented Donald Duk as among those Chinese American children that have played an unacknowledged role in the history of America. In that such children serve as one of the significant indicators of socializing agents in Chinese American communities. Critics might argue about socialization because immigrants usually refer to those vulnerable processes by which the elderly teach children their roots, values, and norms of the culture into which they are born. Such a scenario builds socialization of children, a unique phenomenon in which children’s socialization is not the only type that occurs. During the process of migration from China to America, another type of socialization process, ‘acculturation,’ occurs according to which newer ways to adapt to the new environment are sought out. In Donald Duk, immigrants children have remained unable to socialize with their parents in the American environment.

Donald acts in isolation because neither he changes nor is he successful in altering his father’s norms, which are truly Chinese. Therefore, Donald, in acquiring the ability to communicate with other children of the host society, is unable to become a mediator between two cultures. On the other hand, Donald sees his parents’ helplessness while maintaining an ineffective relationship with the world. This also presents a loophole in maintaining parental authority and coming into close contact with American teachers and schoolmates. This is so because the teachers introduce them to a different set of values which are neither Chinese not American. So, the problem lies with the immigrants’ children who bring American culture into their homes and deny what their real culture asks them. In the same context Donald Duk, in the process of learning new morals, has purely Americanized himself.

Work Cited

Chin Frank. Donald Duk. Coffee House Press. 1997.

Ping Wang. The Last Communist Virgin. Coffee House Press. 2007.

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