The Refugees Symbols & Objects

Viet Thanh Nguyen
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The Brother's Ghost in "Black-Eyed Women"

The ghost of the unnamed brother in "Black-Eyed Women" symbolizes the way trauma can haunt a person. In the story, the brother is a literal ghost, who appears to the unnamed narrator as a fully-flesh being, still wearing the clothes he died in. His material presence is important because rather than being an ephemeral wisp of spirit or even a figment of the narrator's imagination, the wet spots he leaves on the carpet and the briny clothes leaves the reader no choice but to see him as a solid and real thing in the story. The very weight of his presence is important to the story, because it makes visible the weight of the past and the guilt the narrator has been carrying with her since she watched him die. The brother's ghost makes clear that he never left or crossed...

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This section contains 1,894 words
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