Throughout chapter 7, Anh and Khoa go to school. This event is significant to Anh because St. Aloysis (his school) teaches him more about school values like integrity, perseverance, honesty etc. the feeling of real embarrassment and the ability to be anxious. Anh finds it hard copeing with the schools standards, such as school uniform and and accessories like books, pencils etc. So with the help of Phil Keenan (school friend), he passes the year with few books and pencils borrowed from Phil. With the help of his teacher Mrs. Borny, Anh finally relishes his true identity as a person; fun, loving, encouraging and funny. Mrs. Borny plays a massive role within the novel because even though Anh recognizes her as a old, boring drama teacher, she influences Anh in ways like being a good story teller and ways that could effect his future in becoming who he is as a person today. Tram (Anh's sister) plays the motherly-figure throughout the novel. Tram was forced to grow up quickly and ever since Anh's grandma had moved out and Hien (mother) always working, Anh and Khoa mostly depend on Tram to do daily chores like washing clothes, dishes and cooking. Anh's mother finds it hard to even do daily chores. Even though Anh's dad left the family (when Anh was 13), Anh finds it hard to relax because his mom is asmethic; this leads to anxiety and makes him feel concerned because Anh just wants to live a normal life with no worries, a shelter to live in and a shoulder to lean on to. Anh wants to join the army at the age of 17. After hearing "you get paid $15,000..." from army reserves, Anh gets interested and signs up. But unfortunately because of asmethic issues he gets rejected for not reaching the army-requirements (you cannot join if you have asthma). This makes him have grief and sadness and with the help of Hien Anh's mother and anchor of the family, she makes him feel better.
Chapter seven includes the two major themes of family and of being an outsider.
Family is the main theme in this chapter, which is made obvious by Anh Do’s worry, loyalty and how much he cares for his mother. Anh often offers to go without things for his mum, as he worries that she is being worked too hard. “None of this mattered when weighed up against the hardship my mum was going through” This quote proves how much Anh cares and worries for his mother’s well being. The caring is reciprocated as Anh’s mother never takes up his offers. “As always, she saw through it.” Anh is always trying to earn money or help out in some way, as he always worries about his mother. “I hated homework, I hated it most when it took time away from helping mum out with the sewing.”
Throughout this chapter, Do tells of how he often felt different due to his refugee status. He is often worrying about how others see him ( “for god’s sake, how poor are that family?”, “what’s wrong with this freak?”). Anh is bothered that others will treat him with sympathy if they knew how his family actually is.
The main theme of this chapter, however is survival. Anh and his family struggle to survive financially and socially, but their schemes, optimism and determination get them through. Anh and his family stick together to help and look out for each other through the thick and thin in order to get each other through. It is their love and support for each other that gets them through the hard times.
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" Jesus, look at that jacket, it's two different colours, how poor are that family! "
With Anh growing into a man clothes became a big problem for the poor family. Anh was able to fit into his brother Khoa's jacket for school, however the sleeves only came half way down his forearm. Anh's mother had thrown the material she used to fix up the jacket for Khoa three years earlier, forcing her to search from Marrickville to Bankstown to find the same fabric. With no luck she bought the closest matching grey. Anh when he won a year 10 graduation prize felt very self conscious about his two different coloured jacket and feared what the other kids were thinking.
This quote relates to the theme 'outsider' as his lack of money made him wear a different coloured jacket which caused him to feel like he stood out and didn't belong with the other kids. Anh feared that people would judge his jacket and start seeing him for an outsider or exclude him from his now normal life because of the way he looks.
Anh's childhood at first was a struggle and all through school he started to feel as if he truly belonged here. However the knowledge of his origins caused Anh to constantly avoid looking or acting different and when he did he truly felt like an outsider.
Anh's outlook one the world then was if he didn't look the same as the other students, his peers, he would be seen and treated as an outsider. Anh believed that inorder for him to become a part of his new home he had to fit in and not be an outsider. Anh tried hard not to be an outsider but his families situation and wealth made it near impossible to avoid.