The Sympathizer Short Essay - Answer Key

Viet Thanh Nguyen
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1. How would you describe the narrative style of The Sympathizer?

The narrative is related from the first-person perspective of the unnamed narrator, a communist spy. He is relating his story in the form of a "confession," addressed to "the commandant," regarding his activities as a double agent. The narrative is largely related in the past-tense.

2. How is the theme of duality introduced in Chapter 1?

The narrator describes himself as a man of two minds, establishing this theme that carries through the narrative. He says, "I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds." This will be explored in the novel to the point that by the end, the narrator no longer speaks of himself as "I" but as "we."

3. How would you describe the narrator and protagonist of The Sympathizer?

The narrator is Eurasian. His mother was Vietnamese and his father was a priest who taught at a school in the narrator's hometown in Vietnam. Because of his mixed heritage, he is sensitive to being ostracized in both Vietnam and in America.

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