Donald Duk and the White Monsters

Donald Duk and the White Monsters

“Donald Duk and the White Monsters” by Frank Chin is of the most widely recognized Asian American literary and a coming of age novel. The work is characterized by the extensive reference of the culture and historical period. The novel is about a young boy turning twelve years which meant that he had complete the Chinese Zodiac, and the identity crisis caused by being Asian in San Francisco, something that made him juggle various cultures and how he grew into his name.

Omniscient Narrator

As relayed by the omniscient narrator, the plot of the story appears to be straightforward, concerning a current social evil (Frank, 1991). This work has since grown in cultural relevance with the growing awareness on hate the Asian Community in the United States. Frank Chin demonstrated his stylish and ironic approach to the concepts of identity and racisms.

Donald Duk and the White Monsters

Donald Duk and the White Monsters Summary

The story was about Donald Duk preparing for the Chinese New Year and his 12th birthday. He is a son to King Duk, a Chinese chef. He had two older sisters Venus and Penelope Duk. The most emotionally intense scenes are when Donald Duk is embarrassed by his family and last name. This story began with his comparing himself to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, whom he believes that he dances like, throughout the novel. One of the most interesting names Donald took was Chinese Fred Astaire (Frank, 1991). The audience is exposed to the experience and knowledge in his simplistic immersions in various black-and-white movies, and the self-deception and imagination involved.

In addition to being his embarrassment to his family, Donald Duk is also ashamed by his family’s rejection of the American culture. He wants to change this aspect of his personality and embrace American culture through popular art and movies. Donald also puts up with harassment because of his name, something that makes his father advised him that he needs to learn how to stand up to bullies. Donald’s interest in dancing began when his family visited China Town during the New Year celebrations, after watching the Lion Dancers (Frank, 1991).

He began reading various works of art by Chinese immigrants in the United States, something that made him realize that it was his duty to defend his Asian Identity. He, therefore, found himself and began making controversial statements like White People are racists. This begins his struggle with law enforcement, something that eventually leads to him being arrested for murder, something that was later proven to be wrongful.

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Donald Duk and the White Monsters Characters

The use of characters in the novel “Donald Duk and the White Monsters” is very interesting as Frank Chin adapted predominantly Caucasian and Asian cast representing the racial aspect of the racial conflict. The white cast members such as Arnold Azalea represent the mainstream American culture, which to Donald Duk seems to be fascinating. Additionally, the mainstream American culture is accepting and welcoming of the Asian culture (Frank, 1991).

The culture is generally shown to be charming and accepting of the Asians. Therefore there is a naturally occurring mutual interest existing amongst individuals in the different cultures, something that Frank Chin uses to show that people have an interest in understanding each other, as opposed to the belief that everyone is tribal and racist by default and has to teach how to be accepting of people from various descents.

Donald’s family represents an immigrant household in the United State and is used to depict the various atrocities that he has to undergo. American Cong on the other hand represents the imperialism of the American society, as he was a veteran in the Vietnam War. Even though he is Chinese American, he overlooks his Asian descent and calls Hissels American, something that is used to prove that the Imperialist American society tends to devalue and brainwash the Asians to assimilate them into the mainstream American culture.

Donald Duk and the White Monsters (2)

The choice of character names simplistically alludes to their role in the storyline, for example, the American Cong being a self-hating individual of Asian descent who is a Vietnam War Veteran. His name shows his embracement of the American identity while disregarding his Asian roots. There is therefore a conflict on how much an individual’s heritage should affect their day-to-day life (Frank, 1991). Mr. Meanwright is another name that effectively represents the identity of the owner as he is a racist individual who is often mean to people of Asian descent. He also thinks that it is his right to choose who he can interact with.

Frank Chin on Racism

Frank Chin’s approach to the themes of racism and identity is very fascinating to the depth with which he tackles these topics. Donald Duk is not only undergoing an identity crisis but also aware of his struggle with his identity based on his shame for his culture. He is uncomfortable with having the thought that he thinks that he might have a better quality of life if he was Caucasian. The main source of this crisis as well portrayed by the author is the fact that his culture is ostracized in the Western civilization due to the adaption of communism.

Another interesting theme in the story is the theme of racism, which is one of the sources of Frank’s identity crisis. As Donald learns more about his culture, he realizes the racisms embedded in the American culture and another basis of his American identity. He notices various White people like Mr. Meanwright who view Asians as noncompetitive and passive in a lot of aspects of their lives.

Frank Chin’s brilliance as an author comes off when he uses the character, Mr. Meanwright to ask the question “What’s wrong with racists, anyway?” And his mother relies on “We have been living with them for over a hundred years now, and we get along with them fine.” (Frank, 1991) This is brilliant because even though it is unanimous through the society that racism is evil and should be eliminated from society, Fran Chin empathizes with the racist people to understand the basis of their hatred for people from the races.

Literary Devices

To relay these messages effectively, Fran Chin uses various literary devices, impeccably. The author also alludes to well-known historical events such as the Vietnam war, where American Cong served. He also alludes to the Union Pacific Railroad, where Asian workers were denied credit and thus affected their financial well-being across generations (Frank, 1991). The reference on Chinatown is used to show the modern situation regarding Asian presence in the United States, a scenario where racism against the Asian people persists.

In conclusion, this essay effectively proves that Frank Chins is deserved his accolade, as his work effectively portrays various overlook social situations. This effectively creates the main themes’ portrait based on the various struggles that take place through the interaction of various human beings. He uses “Donald Duk and the White Monsters” to pose the question, how much of an individual’s identity should be based on their ethnocentric consciousness. With is with the simplistic use of a young person who realizes that there is a relationship between his Asian identity and his self-esteem.

Donald Duk and the White Monsters


Frank C. (1991). Donald Duk. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press.

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