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Jhaleel Hill
Professor Srmabekian
English 114 B
17 April 2015
The Fate of Two
In the dual graphic novel Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang,
the two opposing protagonists, Lil Bao and Four-Girl, who both have
different views of the world, because of their gender and of their
different upbringing in China. Moreover, due to their different
experiences, both characters have dissimilar ideologies that lead them
to their own particular fate. Throughout the story, the two characters
that although share a similar background, their experiences with
gender, upbringing, social, and cultural belief systems are the result of
their fate. Furthermore, these different experiences are seen in the way
the characters families treat them differently based on their gender.
While Four-Girl was alienated and seen only as an outcast and devil, Lil
Bao is supported and praised for being a male, he is seen as a hero.
Being of a female gender affected Four-Girls fate immensely and is
one of the main factors why she chooses her religion, Christianity.
Gender is the cause of their different paths as it contributes on how
they view and function in their society in opposing ways. Whereas one
is more passionate about the culture he was born into and the other
rebels against the same culture that outcasts her.

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These differences of lifestyle can be viewed as Lil Bao grows up
in a family that is all male dominant, leading to his different views and
treatment for females. Lil Bao does not grow up with a maternal figure
and does not have any women in his life to look up to. The view he has
on women is clearly depicted in the conversation he has with Red
Lantern, his first male mentor and teacher. Red Lantern teaches him
the edicts, which are rules to live by. One of the edicts is, to not to lust
over women and the idea that women can pollute the mind. Lil Bao
learns from Red Lantern that women are beautiful and are able to
create problems in a mans thinking. Moreover, this is seen as Lil Bao
does not give equal respect to them as warriors when he tells Mei-Wen,
the village girl he likes, Ive been thinking, Mei-Wen. It would be best
for youfor all of usif you stayed here in the village(Yang 172). With
this statement, Lil Bao asserts that women are able to pollute the
thinking of men and will produce turmoil in his militia. These
chauvinistic ideas based off of religion and experiences are part of the
reasons that lead him to his fate. Furthermore, he becomes an
extremist and has no sympathy for the lives of children or women of
Christianity. He becomes ruthless and begins to lose everything he
stood for, even the edicts he once valued.
Moreover he was raised in a culture that believed the Gods
control the wealth, happiness, and serenity in his community. For
example, the evil foreign Christian father that comes through town

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breaks their idol that brings peace and wealth to the community, Tu Di
Gong. This idol! Look! Evil idol! Worship one God! Not idol! as the
foreigner threatens. Tu Di Gong! as Lil Bao cries out. This is Good
News of Jesus Christ! says the Christian father. Tu Di Gong! Oh, Tu Di
Gong Lil Bao sobs (Yang 18-20). This is a scene where Lil Bao feels
helpless and broken for the first time by the Christian foreigners. This
breaks the heart of Lil Bao as he cries after losing the idol he adores
most and concludes that all Christians are foreign devils. Leading him
to fight against the foreign devils to win his country and faith back.
This is the beginning of the hatred that Lil Bao has for all the Christian
foreigners. In addition, this is considered a visual foreshadow of the
calamity and distraught that is to come to Lil Baos community. The
last thing to ignite Lil Baos hateful revenge is the foreigners assault
on his father. His father was a symbol of heroism and idolized by Lil
Bao. When he saw his hero broken and mutilated both physically and
emotionally, Lil Bao took a stand to become the new hero of China.
Therefore, this is what leads Lil Bao to begin the militia of Harmonious
Fists and to find his fate.
In contrast, Four-Girl grew up in a family that labeled and claimed
her as a symbol of death because she was born on the fourth month of
the fourth day, which is an omen in Chinese culture. As seen here,
Four, after all is a homonym of death, and grandfather had had
enough of death Four-Girl. Death Girl. (Yang 3). Because of her

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gender Four-Girls grandfather neglects her, making her feel like the
black sheep of the family, as she competes against her male cousin,
Chung for her grandfathers approval. Four-Girl only wants the love and
approval of her family but finds that she is never good enough for
them. Ultimately, Four-Girl tries to copy Chungs actions by taking a
heaving axe to chop some wood, in order to impress and gain the
approval

of

her

grandfather.

However,

this

only

creates

pandemonium as she almost takes her grandfathers head off while


accidentally throwing the axe backwards, this hits and breaks the idol
of the God, Tu Di Gong. After this her grandfather is absolutely set on
the idea that Four-girl is a born devil, and makes her feel ostracized
and unwanted to the point that she runs away in search of acceptance.
Feeling shunned from her own community is what causes her to seek
for enlightenment in Christianity. Christianity provides the acceptance
and security she has needed. Four-Girls faith is resembled through the
way she is inspired by the saint, Joan of Arc and how she wants to
become a heroine just like this saint. It is this sentiment of admiration
that lead Four-Girls journey to her treacherous fate.
While both characters have chosen different religions and paths,
they had no choice in choosing their gender. Their religious and actions
are what bring them to their ultimate fate. Moreover, Four-Girl and Lil
Bao both feel represented by a type of heroic figure in their religious
faith. For Four-Girl is Joan of Arc and for Lil Bao is Chin Shin-Huang,

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both of these figures symbolize their need to be accepted and praise
by their family and community. Four-Girls adulation of Joan of Arc it
foreshadows the fatal fate she will meet, because Joan of Arc is a
martyr figure. Joan of Arc was known as a fighter for her people just
like Four-Girl, Joan made a fateful decision to go to the city's aid
despite having predicted that she would be captured "before St. John's
Day" (June 24th) (Williamson 1). This foreshadows how Four-Girl will
end up dying for her religion, as she stays true to the faith and people
in her village that made her feel accepted, just like Joan of Arc. On the
other hand, Chin Shin-Huang resembles a more aggressive tyrant type
of figure, which foretells Lil Bao to become an extremist who feels no
mercy for anyone who does not share his beliefs. This is seen in the
way Lil Bao treats the religion of Christianity and the people he loves.
Moreover, he becomes such a tyrant he does the same horrible action
of burning of ancient books, like his religious role model Chin ShinHuang. Ch'in ordered a book burning (bibliocaust) that was to destroy
much of the historical record of earlier periods. (Brandauer, Huang 1)
Overall, both characters reach their fate through religion,
following the path of their heroic figures, and most of their entire
different upbringing in the Chinese culture due to a difference in
gender. It is their religious actions and their dissimilar gender
experiences that lead them to their fate. Lil Bao, an extremist that tries
to protect his country and sustain the China that he once knew,

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eventually submits to the foreign powers. Four-Girl a Chinese girl that
felt unwanted by her culture, left to believe whole-heartedly in another
faith in order to be accepted. The only thing they had in common was
the love for their religion, which leads them both to their own fatal
fate. Their love and passion for their religion is what provides purpose
in their lives and ultimately end their lives as well. As in the end of the
book Four-Girl dies for her religion and Lil Bao loses the battle plus all
of his love ones because he is unable to concede.

Works Cited
Brandauer,

Huang.

Imperial

Traditional China.

United

Rulership
States

of

and

Cultural

America,

Change

In

University

of

Washington Press, 1994. Print.


Williamson, Allen. Joan of Arc Biography. Joan of Arc Archive, 2002.
Web. 19 January 2014.

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Yang, Gene Luen. Boxer and Saints. New York: First Second, 2013. Print.