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Strom's Burden Character Analysis

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Thien’s Burden

April 29, 1975, marked the pull out of the American army from Saigon, South Viet Nam. The Americans had been fighting in South Vietnam since 1965. As the American military presence grew over the following years, likewise the antiwar sentiment grew with the American people. In 1975, after the American defeat, there was little fanfare for the returning soldiers. At the same time, in fear of retaliation, most of the South Vietnamese refugees that left Saigon were fleeing because of their political views leading up to the American army evacuation. Consequently, with little time to prepare, the refugees were limited to only the essentials, a change of change of clothing, little mementos and their children. Children, from infants to
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Now, he is abruptly separated from his homeland, his Catholic grandmother who raised him in the Vietnamese tradition, his routine. Thien the refugee, unlike his exiled mother, is forced to adopt a foreign culture he did not ask for or want. Renny Christopher appropriately makes “the distinction between ‘refugee’ and ‘exile’ is that the exiles, voluntary or not, embrace the perspective shift, they experience; refugees, voluntary or not, have it forced on them.” Clearly, Strom’s Thien is the later (p. 43). Strom constructs Thien’s character to emerge in the novel as the malcontent who is the vehicle in which Strom introduces tension in this new American family. “Thien has been old enough to be aware of the changes they had gone through in coming from Vietnam and his mother’s remarriage” (p. 62). Now 14, Thien faces a transnationalism experience contrary to his mom and baby sister. By age 22, he has yet to come to terms with his relocation. In the final chapters Thien has only managed to retain one friend, experienced two failed sexual relationships and had been victim to a string of his cars being
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