American Born Chinese

Legends as Guides: Routes to Cultural Discovery in 'Ceremony' and 'American Born Chinese' College

To enhance the cultural significance and direct their characters’ journeys, Gene Luen Yang and Leslie Marmon Silko include the presence of legends traditional to each culture in their works American Born Chinese and Ceremony, respectively. With these legends we see the integration of Jin’s and Tayo’s cultures into their journeys to accept their identities. At the beginning of each work, the respective characters reject their identities and instead opt to assimilate into American society. By weaving these legends throughout their works, both authors contrast the presence of these traditions within groups marginalized in the West with American culture’s lack of historical richness. Jin and Tayo come to appreciate their cultures through navigating this difference between them and the dominant group. During their social exile, both Jin and Tayo find that their cultures’ traditions and values, which are depicted and presented in lore, guide them and allow them to secure their distinct expressions of their identities as racial minorities in the United States; therefore, they respond to their exile by accepting these legends and integrating their meanings into their lives.

Yang and Silko portray legends in American Born Chinese and...

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