Based on a narrative by Nam Le, 'The Boat' tells the story of a young girl's arduous journey from Vietnam as an asylum seeker.

Chapter 1: The Storm

They are fleeing Vietnam in a boat and the claustrophobia, faceless, inhumane nature of the hold is described. The action is seen through Mai. We meet a young boy named Truoung And his mother Queyen. Mai reflects on her family for comfort and protection. THEME

Chapter 2: A Good Child

Mai hears singing that reminds her of her father. In a flashback she recalls visiting her father in hospital. Her father once a loving and caring fisherman was sent to a 're-education camp and in the process made blind [ Outsiders ]. Mai's mother gives her a hand full of money [ Opportunity ] and is on a 4 hour bus ride to be picked up by an uncle she had never met. [ The Unknown ] THEME

Chapter 3: Relief

Mai follows her mother's instructions and gave her uncle a letter. She hides within a shed. The boiling sun and the scrappy roofing makes the wait excruciating. She next hides in boat under a bridge. In the canoe taking them to the 'Mothership' Mai gets scared and yells they need to ensure they aren't left being. She gets yelled at and is calmed down by Queyen who refers to Mai as Chi. They are transferred to the big boat.


Chapter 4: After The Storm


After an unexpected storm hits the boat was left ruined. The physical condition is symbolic of the emotional and psychological turmoil the journey is taking on the Asylum seekers. The like the identity of its human cargo the boat is left to drift in the ocean in unbearable heat. Causalities begin to befall the boat. After drinking seawater Mai gets extremely sick and falls into a fever and sleeps for two days. Mai realizes why she feels a connection with Truong, because his expression reminds her of her father.

Detailed Outline

When the storm subsided the boat had been torn apart and both engines lost power, food and water were either scarce or spoilt and the amount of people who had joined Mai had been cut short. The first death Mai and the rest of the boat experienced was a shocking experience for all those alive, showing the towel wrapped body falling into it's grave in the ocean.

The storm not only shook the population's morale but also their willingness of befriending those around them, with "children [turning] introverted" and "people [in] their own privacies" everyone felt much more alone. This fear to build relationships is founded on the uncertainty that they or their friends may end up thrown overboard as well. Everyone's world had become the boat and the ocean they rode on, nothing else existed in time but them or so it seemed.

Mai soon decides to drink the seawater which causes her more pain and sickness, she faces the "persistent [thoughts of her father]", realising he too has experienced the same hardships she is facing. She dreams of him and feels the sense of betrayal and pain he has bought by heading out to sea for work. The sense of loneliness she felt while he was gone as she waited for him so then they could "tell each other each moment of their time apart".

She awakens and thinks her father is standing above her but finally understands "what had drawn her to the boy all this time." That fact being how Truong's expression had always been the same as her father's a "face of dead surprise". She longed for her father and reached out to Truong as her final memory of him. But finds him as sick as his father on the top of the boat.


• Survival: Mai and her compatriots repeatedly triumph over adversity within The Boat. Particularly in Chapter 4, when the storm hits and they lose their food and water, Mai still manages to pull through.

• Family: Mai perceives Truong as a fatherly figure, and associates him with her own father. This is an example of Mai and the theme of family within The Boat.

• Identity: Over the course of the journey, Mai and the rest of the people on the boat begin to lose hope, and their personalities begin to change.

Chapter 5


In an attempt to save a life, Mai steals water and is hit by the owner. The other passengers look at the spilt water and think 'what a waste.' The idea that human life has ceased to have value is emphasized.

Queyen asks that Mai claim Truong is her child. She has

Plot Outline

A teenage girl commits suicide by jumping off the boat as the conditions on the boat were getting to hard to survive in. They had little food and water and people were starving. Due to this, Truong was getting sicker and weaker. Quyen is impressed by the way Mai is taking care of her son and asks her to pretend that Truong is her son until she tells her husband about Truong. Mai is worried for Truong as his face is starting to look like a 'brown blasted landscape' because his health is getting worse


- Survival: the people on the boat are struggling to survive because they are running out of food and water, which is making them sick. - Family: Mai, Truong and Quyen are becoming each other's support on the boat to help each other survive. Mai especially feels a connection to Truong because he resembles her father and therefore, she feels the need to protect him. - Sacrifice: Mai is giving up on her food and doing everything she can to help save Truong, who is very sick - Hope:The characters are able to draw strength from the memories of home and the comfort and hope that lies in their relationships with others. Often it is the hope that others will have a future, that provide hope and comfort for the self in the present

Chapter 6

1. Truong's mum, Chi, comes back to claim him
2. Truong's health gets worse for a bit, but gets better
3. Truong insists on his favourite song to be played but is put to sleep instead
4. They find land but before they can reach it, Truong dies
5. They throw his body overboard

Plot Overview Truong only gets worse. After finally waking, he asks Mai to sing him a song. On the 13th day they see land. However the elation at connecting back to the world is lost after Truong passes away. The ceremony of throwing his body overboard acts as both a celebration of life and a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of preserving memories.


Survival - the scenes in chapter 6 obviously show Truong's fight for survival and throughout the entire novel, all the refugees are seen to be enduring hardships in order to get a better life Death - death is a foreboding theme throughout the boat. Death is almost always expected when she was in the boat ride. Death almost becomes a source of comfort for the characters as they become engulfed by the suffering and despair that was once a backdrop to their lives. Outsider - Mai felt like she was an outsider during her boat experience. She at first didn't know what was going on and continued to try to remember her family, ignoring everyone else around her.

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