Shi Jie
Shanghai International Studies University, China


Typical American is regarded as the Great Gatsby of Asian Americans. The novel depicts Ralph’s and his families’ pursuit of the American dream. Since the 1960s, the concept of model minority is advocated by some politicians and the concept stresses the hardworking and submissive nature of successful Asian Americans. This paper explores the political implications of the concept model minority and how the author, Gish Jen, deconstruct the model minority myth by studying Ralph’s, Teresa’s and Zhao’s success, dilemma, and bildung in the white society. Firstly, the paper points out the hardworking, submissive and perseverant nature of Ralph and Mr. Lee as implied in the concept model minority. These merits enable them to succeed quickly in every career they choose. However, their integration into American society is difficult. The second chapter analyzes the anxious and paradoxical bildung of Asian Americans. Although Ralph gains tenure and buys the big house for his family, anxious feeling always accompanies him. His “Americanization” process is characterized by the conflicts of two cultures: the consanguinity culture and the white culture. Asian Americans’ bildung is distinctive from that of native Americans, which shows the cultural and identity crisis of the immigrants. After pointing out the racial discrimination and paradoxical dilemma that Asian Americans meet, the third chapter analyzes the political implications of the concept model minority and how Gish Jen explodes the myth. Other than the concept of model minority, Gish Jen’s interviews and speeches will be examined in the paper for a better understanding of Asian Americans’ dilemma.


Gish Jen, typical American, model minority, politics