The Americans’ and Asians’ Ideas about Each Other in T.C. Boyle’s “East is East”

Presentation (Elaboration), 2011

14 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Quotes: The Asians’ Ideas about Americans
2.1 Words used for Americans in the Book
2.2 Hiro’s Grandma describing his Father
2.3 Hiro’s View of Americans- Adopted from Films and Books
2.4 Hiro’s Impressions of America
2.5 The Japanese’s Point of View about Negros
2.6 Hiro’s American Hopes
2.7 Ruth talking about the Asians Ideas of Americans

3 Quotes: The Americans’ Ideas of Asians
3.1 Words used for Asians in the Book
3.2 Outward Appearance
3.3 Food
3.4 Cultural Prejudice
3.5 People of a lower Class
3.6 The Danger created by Foreigners

4 Awareness of Prejudices

5 Coping with Prejudices- The Assimilation vs. Acculturation Debate

6 Structure and Aims of the Presentation

7 Conclusion- Reflections on the Group Presentation

8 Bibliography

1 Introduction

This paper is about the stereotypes that Asians and Americans have of each other. Therefore quotations from Boyle’s book: “East is East” are listed. Though it was not part of the presentation ,you will also find the quotations on the Asians’ ideas about Americans here in order to give a statement on each nation’s representative’s awareness on those matters.

After that there is a chapter on coping with prejudices, and the terms of assimilation and acculturation are defined.

Last there is an overview of our presentation explaining the different phases, their contents and aims. The transcript of the news-show is given and a short reflection on the presentation and working on this topic can be found.

Before you read on, I would like to explain three terms here which are used simultaneously during this paper. Often it is not possible to distinguish between a cliché, a stereotype or a prejudice because the definitions of those terms are very similar and the choice of the right term depends on everyone’s individual experiences with regard to the certain subject.

Nevertheless I want to show that there are certain differences, by giving the definitions here:

- Cliché: A phrase or opinion that is overused and shows a lack of original thought.
- Stereotype: An image or idea of a particular type of person or thing that has become fixed through being widely held.
- Prejudice: Pre-assumption, pre-conceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

2 Quotes: The Asians’ Ideas about Americans

Actually this chapter on the Asian’s ideas about Americans was not part of our presentation. But when reading the book I marked all of those in order to compare the stereotypes both nations have of each other.

2.1 Words used for Americans in the Book

- long nose
- hakujin
- butter stinker
- keto (p.267)
- for Saxby: big hairy boifurendo

2.2 Hiro’s Grandma describing his Father


..(he always was dirty and hairy, no matter the version)…

2.3 Hiro’s View of Americans- Adopted from Films and Books


But if Japanes were a pure race, intolerant of misgenation to the point of fanaticism, the Americans, he knew, were a polyglot tribe, mutts and mulattos and worse- or better, depending on your point of view. In America you could be one part Negro, two parts Serbo-Croatian and three parts Eskimo and walk down the street with your head held high. If his own society was closed, the American was wide open- he knew it, he’d seen the films, read the books, listened to the LPs- and anyone could do anything pleased there.


Pavement. … If he followed it, he reasoned, the road would lead him to civilization, to some tidy little farmhouse where he could risk showing himself and beg for food in exchange for doing odd jobs, maybe sleep in a barn like in those black-and-white movies with the clanking jalopies and the smiling long-nosed old ladies in bonnets and dresses that hung to the floor. Or he could find a diner or a McDonald’s like the ones in Tokyo-…- he could purchase a meal, fries and a Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets and a shake.

Hiro buying Coke, p.50

Say something, Hiro told himself, say something, and all at once he had an inspiration. Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood- what would they say? Americans began any exchange of pleasantries with a string of courses, anyone knew that- and even if he hadn’t- known it, even if he were an innocent, he’d seen Eastwood in action. “Mothafucka,” he said, bowing to the girl as he shuffled forward to dump his booty on the counter. And to the bewildered boy, in the most amenable tone he could summon, he observed: “Cocksucka, huh?”


He knew them. Americans. They killed each other over dinner, shot one another for sport, mugged old ladies in the street. Help like that he didn’t need.


He knew them. They’d tried to run him down before he’d even set foot on their soil, they’d chase him out of Hog Hammock and Ambly Wooster’s house too. They were Americans. Killers. Individualists gone rampant. He hung his head and started for the door…. expecting no mercy but the law of the jungle and of the mutt and half-breed.

2.4 Hiro’s Impressions of America


To be here, inside, with rugs on the floors and paintings on the walls, to be here at the center of all this wonderful immensity, all this living space- this was paradise, this was America.


But still, the Americans made such a mess of their food—just served it in a heap, with no thought of grace or proportion, as if eating were a shameful thing- and if he weren’t starving, he would have turned up his nose at it.


The fools. They were so stupid it was incredible. Four hours they’d sat there, and never once did they glance up at the window. The was the American nature. They were oafs, drugged and violent and overfed, and they didn’t pay attention to detail. That’s why the factories had shut down, that’s why the automakers had gone belly up, that’s why thee professional investigators could sit in an eight-by-ten-foot cell for four hours and never notice that two of the bars had been pried from the window.


…there was nothing but water, muck, creeper and vine, the damnable unending fetid stinking wilderness of America. But no, it couldn’t be. Was it all swamp, the whole hopeless country? Where where the shopping malls, the condos, the tattoo parlors and supermarkets? Where the purple mountains and the open range? Why couldn’t the butter-stinker have popped open the trunk at the convenience store, at Burger King or Saks Fifth Avenue? Why this? …

2.5 The Japanese’s Point of View about Negros


Worse: the stranger was a black man, a Negro, and he knew, as every Japanese does, that Negros were depraved and vicious, hairier, sweatier and even more potent than their white counterparts, the hakujin. They were violent and physical, they were addicted to drugs and they thought only with their sexual organs.

2.6 Hiro’s American Hopes


… and he was free- or he would be, if only he could get to Beantown or the City of Brotherly Love[1] … every face was different- they were white and black and yellow and everything in between- and they all glowed with the rapture of brotherly love.


What was he going to do- grow a long black beard and eat dirt all his life, live like a caveman or a hippie or something? No, he had to go to Beantown, the Big Apple, to the City of Brotherly Love; he had to blend in with the masses, find himself a job, an apartment with western furniture and Japanese appliances, with toaster ovens and end tables and deep thick woolly carpets that climbed up the walls like surging tide. Then he’d be sage, then he could play miniature golf and eat cheeseburgers or stroll down the street with an armload of groceries and no one would blink twice.

2.7 Ruth talking about the Asians Ideas of Americans


“The U.S. Marines were about to land and the civilians had been abandoned. The rumor was that to become a Marine you had to murder your own parents. Can you imagine that?- that’s what they thought of us. The Japanese- civilians, women and children- leaped from a cliff into the sea rather than fal into the hands of such monsters.

3 Quotes: The Americans’ Ideas of Asians

3.1 Words used for Asians in the Book

- Nip: (U.S. and UK) A derogatory term for someone of Japanese descent (shortened version of Nipponese, from the Japanese name for Japan, Nippon)

- Gook: Like the German “Schlitzauge”


[1] It is merely a translation of the Greek phrase "brotherly love" from philos "love" and adelphos "brother"à Philadelphia.

Excerpt out of 14 pages


The Americans’ and Asians’ Ideas about Each Other in T.C. Boyle’s “East is East”
University of Paderborn  (Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
T. C. Boyle
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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516 KB
Ausarbeitung zum Referat mit Verlaufsplan des Referates, überarbeitet. Kommentar des Dozenten: Die Arbeit verrät genaue Textkenntnisse und das Referat viele gute Ansätze. Insgesamt eine überdurchschnittliche Leistung.
T. C. Boyle, East is East, Assimilation, Acculturation, Asians, Americans, Stereotypes, Cliché, Hiro and Ruth, New's Show, quotations
Quote paper
Melissa Naase (Author), 2011, The Americans’ and Asians’ Ideas about Each Other in T.C. Boyle’s “East is East”, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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