11 October, 2015

11October, 2015

GraphicalNovels: American Born Chinese

Oneof the most significant, yet the less obvious difference betweennovels and graphic novels is the presentation of the story’s moodduring the story telling. While the text novels tell their story inplain text, the graphic novels have a higher advantage of usinggraphics in presenting the moods of the story better. The differencebetween the novels and the graphic novels is that the latter have agreater appeal to the reader’s moods. This rhetorical appeal is aunique aspect that is normally lacking in the on the ordinary textnovels. To explain this difference between the two types of novels,this paper will explore the graphic novel AmericanBorn Chinese,and compare it with “Home,TheTurn of the Screwand Flatland:A Romance of Many Dimensions.

Oneof the ways that the novel AmericanBorn Chinese,presents the difference of appealing to the moods of the readers isthrough the use of graphics to persuade the reader. This is done byhaving graphics that are designed to invoke the aspects of persuasionthat touch the mood of the reader. By using graphics in the novel,the “AmericanBorn Chinese,”presents a unique appeal to the reader to not only understand thestoryline but also identify with the story. This is done by usinggraphics that invoke the motions of the reader. For instance, to showlove for Chin-Kee, Yang states, “Everyone Ruvs Chin-Kee” (Yang43). Below on the picture, Yang puts another emotional appeal ofclaps, “clap clap clap clap…..” (Yang43). The graphics invoke the emotions of the reader (pathos) inunderstanding the changes of the moods in the storyline.

Unlikenovel AmericanBorn Chinese,other novels describe the mood and the credibility of storyline. Inthe novel Home,Morison uses sentences to explain concepts to the reader and createcredible sentences sentences like “Whosehouse is this? Whose night keeps out the light In here? Say”(Morison 2). Unlike in Morrison, the novel AmericanBorn Chinese,uses graphics appeal to credibility of the situation and entirestoryline. Unlike the other novels, novel AmericanBorn Chinese,achieves this by embedding small Chinese symbols in each section ofthe book. These symbols play significant role of giving the novel thecontextual appeal of the book. The reader will definitely know thatthe book is about a Chinese storyline of context, even before readingeach section.

Anotherway that novel AmericanBorn Chineseuses the difference of crating moods is by presenting bettercredibility of the storyline, compared to text novels. Unlike othernovels, the “AmericanBorn Chinese,”is able to provide more content through the use of graphics. Therhetorical aspects of the graphical communicate the extra content bythe author. This is achieved through the inclusion of certain appealthat cannot be described through text. For other novels the text canonly create a description that forces the reader to form a mentalpicture of the plot, context or the situation. For instance, HenryJames struggled to express a lonely moment, when he could have usedan image in &quotWe were alone with the quiet day, and his littleheart, dispossessed and stopped” (James 113). However, the“AmericanBorn Chinese,”just presents all the elements of the message that the author intendsto provide to the reader. This makes the novel more appealing andauthoritative to the reader by allowing the audience to view more ofthe contents of the novels.

Unlikethe three novellas, novel AmericanBorn Chineseincorporates the ability to switch between stories without losing theappeal to the reader. The author successfully switches between thethree stories without losing the appeal or the context of the story.This perhaps is because the appeal is created by the graphics and nottextual descriptions found in other novels. This way, the authorswitches from Monkey King, the Jin Wang, and Chin-Kee stories. Thestoryline is created by pictures that still align themselves to themain story of finding identity. The author still keeps the readerattracted to the three storylines, by changing the contexts, theplot, characters, but still maintaining the rhetorical appeals.

Unlikethe three novellas, novel AmericanBorn Chineseis consistent with all the characters of the stories. The differencecomes because the authors have to make deliberate textualdescriptions about the characters. Gene Yang uses graphics tomaintain the appeal by maintaining it among the three maincharacters. This is different from Abbot who writes to show “Upward,not Northward” (Abbot 21). He could have used graphics showing upand down. Unlike Abbot, represents Monkey King, a legendary characterwho rules over the Flower-Fruit Mountain. The author even describesthe type of rule by stating, “The Monkey King ruled with a firm buta gentle hand” (Yang10). Yangthen shifts to Jing Wang, an American of Chinese descent strugglingto fit into the American culture. Yang also introduces Danny, anAmerican who is interacting with his Chinese cousin. In all thesecharacters, the author maintains the attention of the reader throughthe rhetorical appeal in the graphics.

Basedon the cases of difefrences between the three novellas and novelAmericanBorn Chinese,the use of graphics presents better appeal to the moods of thereader. While this is a significant difference, it is not obviouslyobserved by most readers. This difference makes all the significanceas the attention of the reader is captured by the appeals ofpersuading the emotions of the reader, and creating credibility ofthe literature. By using graphics, Gene Yang creates a consistentappeal that transits the three stories to merge the storylines.


Abbott,Edwin A, and Lila M. Harper. Flatland:A Romance of Many Dimensions.Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Editions, 2010. Print

Morison,Toni. Home,New York: Knopf Publishing, 2012, Print

James,Henry. TheTurn of the Screw. NewYork: W.W. Norton &amp Company 1999, Print

Yang,Gene. AmericanBorn ChineseNew York: First Second Books, 2006, Print