The Refugees Themes & Motifs

Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Ghosts

The motif of ghosts in The Refugees allows Nguyen to argue for the importance of the past and the way it can haunt characters, even as they've moved on to the future. It is not an accident that the collection of stories begins with the unnamed narrator of "Black Eyed Women" working as a ghostwriter who sees the literal, embodied ghost of her dead brother. In the story, the dead brother shows up at her home, dripping wet from the sea and wearing the clothing she saw him in last, more than a decade before. In this story, the ghost becomes more than a spectral haunting. Her brother comes as an embodied form, a boy whose clothes she can wash and who leaves wet spots on the carpet. His solid, physical state underscores the importance of ghosts in this story and other stories. The narrator, herself...

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This section contains 2,352 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Refugees Study Guide
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