The Role Of Deming's Cultural Transition In 'The Leavers'

473 Words2 Pages

Deming’s Cultural Transition
In The Leavers by Lisa Ko, Deming struggles to shape his identity and form connections after transitioning between his birth family and adopted family. Deming used to live with his mother, leaving him with his aunt and cousin. His family couldn’t support him financially, so Deming had to be fostered by a white family in Righbourough. After arriving in Righbourough, Deming’s foster parents Peter and Kay decide to change his name from Deming Guo to Daniel Wilkinson: “When school started, they said it would be easier with an American name” (49). By changing his name, Peter and Kay hope to make him appear more white and fit American ideals. Deming’s name is one of the last parts that connected him to his mom and Fuzhounese culture. The last name Wilkinson disconnects Deming from his mother and connects him with his new unfamiliar family. Deming’s identity divides into two, Deming Guo and Daniel Wilkinson. …show more content…

At school Deming is viewed as a white student: “Being surrounded by other Chinese people had become so strange. In high school, kids said they never thought of him as Asian or Roland as Mexican, like it was a compliment” (20). His peers see him as a model minority, someone who fits Asian-American stereotypes of always doing well academically. However, Deming doesn’t fit the cultural expectations and instead struggles with motivation in school. There is an internal conflict between Deming’s racial difference and his identity. He has a white family and lives in a white community, yet he is Chinese. He feels like a different person, someone with a different name who doesn’t stand

Open Document