The Americans by Viet Thanh Nguyen: My Review

“It was a trivial secret, but one I would remember as vividly as my feeling that while some people are haunted by the dead, others are haunted by the living.”

- From the Text

This story presents the aftermath of the war in Vietnam. Carver worked as a pilot of a fi ghter jet for American forces during the Vietnam war and then, later in life, married a Japanese woman named Michiko who bore him a daughter, Claire, and a son, William. Claire is shown to have moved to Vietnam with her boyfriend, Legaspi and Carver with his wife go there to visit their daughter.

Claire’s stance on moving to Vietnam seems rebellion against what her father and nation had done to other nations. Carver seems an ignorant, frustrated and arrogant man blinded by patriotism who constantly keeps pointing out faults and fl aws within Vietnamese people and society without realising that all these problems he has with Vietnam are the aftermath and direct outcomes of the American oppression that he was also a part of. When his daughter, Claire, reminds him of the bombs he had dropped on this country that had led to these consequences which he is upset with, only then, does it hit him and he walks away in the rain.

When walking in the rain Carver is saddened by the thought of how Claire cared for the strangers but had no love left for him. But he is proven wrong when he gets pneumonia and wakes up after three days realising Claire had been sleeping on the fl oor for three days looking after him and when she helps him to the bathroom he remembers her innocence, how she used to wrap her little hands around his fi nger when would walk her to the bathroom at night. These memories bring tears to his eyes.

  • Things I explored through this story.
    • Topics I explored through this story.
    • We keep criticising others without realising that honest criticism always starts with oneself.
    • Pride and blind patriotism blind masses into hegemony.

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