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Plot

At the start of chapter two, the Dos and their extended family had saved their money and sold all of their possessions to buy a boat with which they will were leaving Vietnam with. As the 40 or so Vietnamese refugees made their way across the boarder between Vietnam and international waters, they are chased by a communist boat. Thankfully, it turns back just as the second smaller engine of the boat broke. The boat is hot, sticky and desperate. Anh's mum has him and his younger brother, Khoa, under an arm each. Both crying their little heads off.On the second day, a big wave descends upon the ship. Tam sends Hien along with the other women and children below deck to escape the wave. Hien sings her sons a lullaby as she prays for her husband's safety. After it passed, a seventeen year old boy jumps off of the boat and disappears. A few days later, the boat is attacked by pirates. They steal all the money, food, jewelry and the second engine. They didn't, however, see the first broken engine. Tam fixes it and he continues on his way with 39 shaken up and upset refugees. They get attacked again by pirates, this time with nothing left. One of the women, Huong, were taken onto the other boat and a golden bar is found in Khoa;s nappy. Angry that the refugees lied to him, the pirate goes to throw Khoa off of the boat. Tam riles up the 37 refugees left and gets them to fight for the life of Huong and Khoa. As the pirates leave, returning Khoa to Hien and Huong to the boat, a small pirate throws them a gallon of water. With the first engine taken, the refugees drift hopelessly. But finally they are saved by some German men.

Theme

The most important theme to discuss in relation to this chapter is vulnerability of the strong. From recounts in the first chapter of the book it can be considered that Anh’s father is what would be normally described as a “strong” character. Anh’s father displayed characteristics such as being fearless and heroic; both of which are distinctive traits seen in strong individuals. The idea of the strong being vulnerable comes from two direct quotes from the text in question. The first one being “Dad felt grief having to leave her behind”. This quote is evidence that despite being a strong man Anh’s father is still vulnerable to the depressive feelings of grief. The second quote that relates to theme currently being discussed is the quote “Bo Thoung Con Qua” also known as the words spoken to Anh and his brother just before Anh’s father departed for his last day in Vietnam. The quote signals vulnerability because it is once again showing that the strong character of Anh’s father is susceptible to feelings of sadness when having to leave his sons behind. The theme of vulnerability of the strong relates to Chapter 2 in the way that the non communist people of Vietnam at the time of the Vietnamese war could have been considered a strong people that were vulnerable to the horrors and sadness of war. 

Character

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Key Quote

'Bang! Bang! the patrol boat stated shooting at us, and the women on our boat screamed.'

by using onomatopoeia Do is able to paint a picture in the mind of a reader and encourages them to experience the fear of bullets racing past their heads, hitting the side of the boat, the only thing that could get them a better life. The screams of the women echo's inside the readers head, emphasising the feeling of terror felt as the peoples lives flash before their eyes. The feeling the people would get after realising that right as they get their ticket out of there,the fear of dying is disappearing, they are going to get killed on their way to freedom.

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