American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese Imagery

Scent of Monkey Fur (Olfactory Imagery)

When the Monkey King returns to his kingdom after being denied access to the heavenly party because he is a monkey, he notices the strong smell of monkey fur in his royal chamber. He had never noticed the scent before; he spends the night on his throne and considers how to get rid of the smell. In this example of olfactory imagery, the Monkey King's newfound self-consciousness and shame are illustrated by his becoming newly aware of his own smell.

Sound of the Abacus (Auditory Imagery)

After the herbalist's wife tells Jin that he can transform into anything he wants as long as he gives up his soul, she goes back to calculating bills using her abacus. To underscore the ominous quality of her statement, the clacking sound of the abacus beads echoes through the room while Jin sits bewildered.

Takeout Container Luggage (Visual Imagery)

When Danny's cousin Chin-Kee bursts through the front door, Danny's father carries Chin-Kee's luggage in the background. Rather than regular suitcases, Chin-Kee's luggage is made of the white paper takeout containers standard at American Chinese restaurants; however, Chin-Kee's containers are gigantic. This visual imagery emphasizes how Chin-Kee is a composite of misinformed stereotypes.

Laughing at the Cafe Bakery (Visual Imagery)

The final image of the novel shows Wei-Chen and Jin with their mouths open behind the windows of a Chinese cafe bakery. Though the reader doesn't know what they are discussing, the visual image conveys that they are laughing, which suggests their friendship has remained intact despite years of estrangement.