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the gangster we are all looking for. blood, water, & butterflies. Author’s note “And so I kept my sister’s name and wore it like a borrowed garment, one in which my mother crowded two daughters, one dead and one living ” (160) War and Memory:
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the gangster we are all looking for blood, water, & butterflies
Author’s note “And so I kept my sister’s name and wore it like a borrowed garment, one in which my mother crowded two daughters, one dead and one living” (160) • War and Memory: • “I wanted to put out a different story of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. I wanted to look at the repercussions of war through an American setting, through the story of a Vietnamese family now living in San Diego.” • “No. [It’s] not a memoir. It’s a novel about memory, the memories these characters hold onto of their lives in Vietnam while they are in San Diego. Gangster is not my personal active recollection; it is the personal recollection of the narrator of the book as she tries to face the death of her brother.” • Memory & Truth: • “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried le thi diem thuy
“In Vietnamese, the word for water and the word for a nation, a country, and ahomeland are one and the same: nu’o’c” • What experiences are beyond translation? • What does it mean when the word for “home” and for “leaving home” are one and the same? • Where is home? And what are the psychological repercussions when home is nowhere? Nu’oc
How does the narrator and her father adjust to life in the US? Question 1
Family and home redefined by diaspora • “Ba and I were connected to the four uncles, not by blood but by water” (3) • What is the difference between the beach in Vietnam and the one in San Diego? (13) • Perspective & language: • “Suh-top!” (19) • “I began to play with the ceiling…” (21) suh-top!
What is the symbolism of the glass butterfly in the first chapter? Why does the narrator want to free it so badly? Question 2
Fragility of the glass animals (29) vs the soul of the butterfly (27) • The narrator’s dream (32) • What is the significance of the ending of the first chapter? • “Suh-top” versus “Shuh-shuh” (35) shuh-shuh!
What are the two meanings of the title of the second chapter, “palm”? • How does the author further develop the motif of water? • How does the author change from the first to the second chapter? questions to consider