The Role Of Refugees In Inside Out & Back Again

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Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their countries in order to escape war, persecution, and natural disaster. Most refugees are ordinary people coming from ordinary places. One of these ordinary people, Kim Hà from South Vietnam, was created as a fictional character for the novel Inside Out & Back Again, written by Thanhha Lai, who modeled it after her own life as a refugee. Lai, just like her character Hà, was forced to flee her home during the Vietnam War, and ended up in the United States, in the state of Alabama. While Hà is a fictional character, Lai gives her certain characteristics so readers of her novel will realize the struggles refugees have to face, and the ways they must recover from them. For example, during her…show more content…
Firstly, in the poems, “Saigon is Gone”, and “Last Respects”, Lai says, “...he [Southern Vietnam pilot] adds what no one wants to hear: It’s over; Saigon is gone… One woman tries to throw herself overboard, screaming that without a country she cannot live. As they wrestle her down, a man stabs his heart with a toothbrush” (Lai, 69; 85). This shows that while all the refugees who heard the Southern Vietnamese pilot were deeply upset by the news that they’d lost everything they’d left behind, including Hà, others couldn’t handle the sorrow they felt by knowing this, trying to end their pain by killing themselves. Hà’s situation is not exclusive to just her, but to most refugees in general. For example, in the article, “Children of War,” published by Scholastic Update, Arthur Brice interviews four children who, upon losing their homes when the Yugoslav Wars hit Bosnia, were among the 3,000 refugees admitted to the U.S. in 1993. Elma, one of the four children, speaks in Brice’s article, saying, “Bosnia was a wonderful place to live… I [Elma] had lots of friends and we would all go skiing in the mountains… It was safe… in those days… I’m just hoping war will stop and I’ll go to Bosnia soon” (Brice, 25-26). This quote shows that because Elma has had many great experiences back in her old home, being unsure of whether she will be able to return would be very upsetting for her, and doing the same things in America would not feel the same for her, especially without her friends by her side. Additionally, in the article, “World of Difference Benefit Luncheon”, published by Refugee Transitions, Til Gurung shares the story about how his government made him and his community suffer in their homes because they did not practice the religion or culture of the royal Bhutanese family. In his article, Gurung states, “Though we

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