Arellano shares intimate relationship with Louis because according to Arellano that is the gratitude he shows in respect whose father saves his life. This episode in the chapter delineates the step for new life unlike other refugees in the novel, whose life is borne to tragedy.
Norma devoted her life for the sake of Arellano’s health and his betterment of his health. Soon after the liver transplant, Arellano inhabits gambling life. Arellano places Norma in such a place where she feels isolated due to Arellano’s behavior towards her; not reciprocating her intimacy.
Like Arthur, Louis in need of human relationship to connect himself to the world.Nguyen portrays the difference between the immigrants and the refugees. Each and every person land in America for better life.
“Oh, so you must be Louis’s brother!” Arthur said. “He didn’t tell me he had a brother named Minh.” During the brief pause on the phone, Arthur could hear a woman cooing to a crying child.
Then Minh Vu said, “Who’s Louis?”(Nguyen 90) Minh’s reveal that Louis is not his brother that ruined the friendship with Louis. Again Arellano feels dejected and betrayed in the world.
If one thinks from Louis’s shoes it is evident that Louis hides his identity to make human connections. If Louis had not done that he would have not got a good friend, Arellano. Arellano’s relationship with Louis depicts how the refugees are woven inextricably into the fabric of American society, though Arellano is not a refugee but he is affected by the refugees in multiple ways.
In the end Arellano lost everything: his friend, his wife and he is in the brink of his life. The Americans was originally published in ‘Chicago Tribune’. In this chapter Nguyen delineates different approach to the Vietnam War. James Caver, who fought in the Vietnam War but had no connection to the country.
“Carver, however, cared little for pastoral fantasies, having passed his childhood in a rural Alabama hamlet siphoned clean of hope long before his birth.”(Nguyen 125) Carver has no connection to his birth land is evident, also he has different views on Vietnam; being born in the land of Vietnam.
“Angkor Wat was pretty educational.” Carver didn’t like being educated on his vacations. “And we visited that terrible war museum in Saigon. I don’t really feel like seeing any more horrors.”(Nguyen 127) Though Carver took part in the war, he was never affected by the war.
The museum delineates the de-mining site and apart from that many other things in Vietnam reminded him of the violence that he underwent in the country. Claire and Legaspi enjoy the life in Vietnam whereas according to Carver the life of Claire in Vietnam is rebelling against his life and his culture.
“William had also become a pilot, but he was unhappy flying a KC-135, refueling bombers and fighters patrolling the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan.”(Nguyen 129) William is son of Carver who took up profession of pilot like Carver. Though William hates being pilot for KC -135, he does his job for sake of his father’s wish.
They really want to learn. And I really want to teach.” (Nguyen 129) Whereas Claire is a teacher, who teaches English at Vietnam, which Carver defies it. But Claire loves to teach for Vietnamese in defiance of Carver and also it is to rectify the harm that her father caused as a pilot.
“You’re not a native,” Carver said. “You’re an American.” “That’s a problem I’m trying to correct.” (Nguyen 130) Claire’s way of approach is totally different from her father’s way of approach towards Vietnam, and Claire is happy working as a teacher at Vietnam.
“I am home, Mom. It sounds strange, I don’t know how to put it, but I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. I have a Vietnamese soul.”(Nguyen 130) Claire is very confident in her decision .Unlike Carver she loves this culture than American culture. Thus, she doesn’t want to go to America. And she feels Vietnam is her home and she has to live here.
“When Claire gestured at Carver and Michiko and said something in the local language, the students greeted them in pitch-perfect English. “Hello!” “How are you!” “Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Carver!” Carver smiled at them and waved back.”(Nguyen 132) The Vietnamese souls were very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Carver though they weren’t so to them and their land.
“Enough, you two,” Michiko said. “People are always a little cranky without their coffee, aren’t they?” Claire’s apartment was situated above a caf?. Carver sipped black coffee on ice at their sidewalk table, squatting on a plastic stool and watching Michiko spend five dollars buying postcards and lighters from four barefoot children, dark as dust, who bounded up the moment they sat down.”(Nguyen 131) Carver experienced discomfort in Vietnam like Claire underwent in America.
“There was a reason he loved flying. Almost everything looked more beautiful from a distance, the earth becoming ever more perfect as one ascended and came closer to seeing the world from God’s eyes, man’s hovels and palaces disappearing, the peaks and valleys of geography fading to become strokes of a paint brush on a divine sphere” (Nguyen 136) Carver says that flying high in airplane makes him delight. Thus Carver feels that he sees the world of God and he says from distance the earth ‘became the strokes of a paintbrush on a divine sphere.
“When Carver rolled down his window, he discovered that the smell of the countryside was just as unpleasant, the air thick with blasts of soot from passing trucks, the rot of buffalo dung, the fermentation of the local cuisine that he found briny and nauseating.
All of the sights, sounds, and smells depressed Carver, along with Claire’s and Michiko’s silent treatment of him, unrelenting since yesterday.”(Nguyen 137) Carver’s views on the appearance of the country seem quite filthy to the plight of its people. Carver is depressed by the sight of countryside, and also he wonders how his daughters wish to live in Vietnam.
“That’s the kind of work you would do, Dad. Don’t think everyone’s like you.”(Nguyen 141) “I said I have a Vietnamese soul. It’s a figure of speech. It’s an expression. It means I think I’ve found someplace where I can do some good and make up for some of the things you’ve done.”
Claire strongly agrees that Vietnam is the place and she feels comfortable with the cultural.Whereas in American she could not feel the comfort as in Vietnam. According to Carver Claire moves away from America and them. The sad part is Carver is unaware of the fact that he forgot to protect his culture rather he is rebelling against his culture. Carver could feel the change in condition of Vietnam after war is evident in the episode where he feels difference in the taste of beer.
“He stopped and turned, but somehow he misjudged this simple step, his right foot trapped by mud clutching at his ankle. With the high beams in his eyes, blinding him, he made another misstep, this time with his left foot, the toe coming down straight into the mud, the leg locking at the knee and his body pitching forward into the path of the car.
The mud was wet and cold against his belly and face, its odor and taste evoking the soil in the distant yard of his childhood, the one where he had so often lain prone on the earth and played soldier. It was Legaspi who helped him to his feet and into the idling Land Cruiser, Claire hovering over them with an umbrella.”(Nguyen 144) This episode in the chapter makes Carver clear on perception of the war is slipping away from him. He feels isolated from his family due to his role on the war.
“Where did you think you were going, Mr. Carver?” When Legaspi turned on the stereo, the title track from Giant Steps was playing. “You don’t even know where you are.”(Nguyen 145) This episode in the chapter clearly depicts the clash between the cultures. This is the only reason why Carver wants his daughter to fit into American culture, which she does not do.
“The dream he hadn’t recounted to Legaspi came back to him in his hospital room, where he floated on his back in a black stream, his face emerging every now and again to catch glimpses of his fellow patients in the three other beds, silver-haired, aging men, tended by crowds of relatives who chattered loudly and carried bowls and other things wrapped in towels.
He smelled rice porridge, a medicine whose scent was bitter, the wet dog odor of very old people.”(Nguyen 145) This episode in the chapter depicts the awakening moment of Carver that his duty as a pilot caused harm and violence. Carver also helped Vietnamese who were at mercy.
“The realization burned through the fog of dizziness and fear; delivering a feeling for his daughter so strong it pained him.”(Nguyen 148) The best part in Carver’s realization is his priority of the Vietnamese people was in the firsthand than the Americans life. Though there was clash between Claire and Carver; Claire seeks for intimacy from her parents and that is never shaken due to their opinions.
“Dad,” Claire said. The bathroom door was a pale green rectangle in the blue moonlight before them. “Dad, are you crying?” “No, baby, I’m not,” he said, even though he was.”(Nguyen 149)This last episode delineates the intimacy between the father -daughter relationship, and Carver worries that he did not acknowledge his daughter’s independence to live her life the way she wants to live it.
The characters in The Refugees face trauma in one way or the other. After the Vietnam War, some face trauma in their mother land and some face in the new land- America. Trauma is not only a bodily injury but also a psychological injury due to heavy loss in a person’s life. Thus, temporarily, Traumatic memory affects the person from moving further in their life and they are relieved from those clutches only when they accept their life that it has to move on.