Music of the Ghosts Themes & Motifs

Vaddey Ratner
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The Burden of Survival

Ratner uses the theme of the burden of survival to give her characters a motivation throughout the novel, and to explain their ongoing guilt. As most readers will not have experienced similarly horrific life experiences like many in Cambodia, it will be challenging for most to understand the survivor’s guilt that many in Cambodia feel today. This theme demonstrates that the feelings afterwards of surviving a war or genocide linger with the survivor for the rest of their lives, and impact the younger generation forever. This theme also shows that while some can interpret their survival with guilt, others can take their survival to mean they have purpose, and to use it for good.

For both Suteera and the Old Musician, Ratner writes their motivation as centering around their burden of survival. Ratner uses both of their stories to demonstrate that though...

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This section contains 3,103 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Music of the Ghosts Study Guide
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