Ralph Chang in Typical American

1078 WordsDec 13, 20125 Pages
Mistakes are often essential factors of one’s wisdom and future success. People can always gain precious life lessons from their flaws, which resemble the pebbles that make a stable and perfect road. In the novel Typical American written by Gish Jen, the protagonist, Ralph Chang, makes a mistake in which he shifts and tortures his original American dream to a false and ‘poisonous’ dream that causes his ultimate familial, moral and financial collapse; in other words, he fails to create a ‘China’ with traditional values in America. However, he actually becomes more mature after gaining a valuable lesson from his flaws. Because of his excessive pride and confidence, Ralph is considered a tragic hero as he commits the tragic flaws that lead to…show more content…
Gish Jen shows that Ralph’s personality of extravagant pride affects his interpersonal relationships and influences him to make reckless decisions, in which these factors lead to his familial and economical decline directly. Along with the desperation and disorientation for the tragedy, Ralph enlightens and recognizes his flaws slowly at the end of the novel, while he actually gains a priceless lesson from his flaws. Ralph recalls his initial American dream and recognizes that he is too self-centered that he often neglects his family, an essential part of his dream, and employs excessive emphasis on the material world formerly. He, too, gradually understands that the meaning of ‘typical American’ does not base on materialism and individualism. Instead, as a Chinese immigrant, he may combine the best of Chinese and American cultures without discarding his cultural identity and fully adapting to the American culture. Eventually, he succeeds in rebuilding his cultural identity after the reunion and reconnection with the entire family. Ralph’s proper shift of personality and values is implied as he concludes at the end of the novel that ‘America is no America’ (Jen 296), which suggests the inexistence of utopia and marks an end to Ralph’s immoderate arrogance. Ralph no longer cherishes illusions and misconceptions of the corroded dreams such as making money extensively

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