The Gangster We Are All Looking For, is the first novel by Vietnamese American author, Le Thi Diem Thuy, who left Vietnam by boat with her male parent in 1978, settling in Southern California. The narrative describes the life of a Vietnamese household in America through the wise eyes of a kid. The narrative moves back and Forth between Vietnam and California. Mother and male parent are ”Ma ” and ”Ba, ” and the nameless miss is the storyteller. Writer creates her ain individuality through the images and soundless sounds which constitute imagined infinite in the book. This compensates for the loss she has been through during the assimilation procedure. In fact, The Gangster We Are All Looking For embodies in itself a battle of Vietnamese kids, as foreigners, to incorporate into the American mainstream, with merely a obscure construct of what their original civilization was. The traumatic experience in the war, the flight, every bit good as the conflict she has to contend every twenty-four hours in her life, enhances the troubles she faces in incorporating. Her comfort zone is the imaginativeness ; infinites of her ain in which she can set up a ego and happen her ain voice despite the marginalisation she has to face.
“ I was the lone Vietnamese pupil in my school. .As I stood before them in a frock the colour of an Easter egg, with my pess encased in clear plastic sandals, the other pupils looked at the Earth and so back at me once more. Some whispered behind their custodies. Some merely stared. I imagined the chevrons on my underwear flashing on and off, like traffic signals, under the frock ” ( 19 )
She seems to be out of topographic point. First of wholly, she is a alien to the remainder of the category. The unfamiliarity is expressed in her Vietnamese organic structure with the American Easter-eggcolor frock on. By excepting herself as “ the lone Vietnamese pupil in her school ” ( 19 ) she shows the marginalisation ; she felt in her first brush with the new civilization. And it creates a sense of loss, the loss of a ego. After all, she is a Vietnamese who is have oning an American outfit. Does that do her American? She is wholly out of topographic point in her effort to absorb. In other words, she was rejected, at least in her ain reading.
Struggles and struggles result in the changeless feeling of loss, one that, unluckily, keeps happening in her life over and over once more. She loses her state because of the war. She loses her brother and her sister because of the unreliable flight out of Saigon. She loses her first shelter in America because of the compulsion that she develops with the alive animate beings, stemming from her traumatic memories of the war. She imagines that she is the butterfly strapped in the dish ; she wants to liberate the butterfly and therefore free herself. She loses her stable place with holding been evicted many times. She continues to lose her peace of head because of the household ‘s state of affairs with her male parent ‘s despairing fury and the female parent ‘s changeless bereavement. The loss reaches the flood tide when she runs off, likely after being hit by her male parent, which means she loses a household and her assurance in life. To her, all start with the war, something she recounts with sorrow:
“ Ma says war is a bird with a broken wing winging over the countryside, draging blood and burying harvests in sorrow. If something grows in malice of this, it is both a expletive and a miracle. When I was born, she cried to cognize that it was war I was take a breathing in, and she could ne’er agitate it out of me. Ma says war makes it unsafe to take a breath, though she knows you die if you do n’t. She says she could hold thrown me against the wall, until I broke or coughed up this war that is killing us all. She could hold stomped on it in the dark, and danced on it like a madwoman dancing on headstones. She could hold land it down to pulverize and spat on it, but did n’t I cognize? War has no beginning and no terminal. It crosses oceans like a splintered boat filled with people singing a sad vocal ” ( 87 )
So war follows her from Vietnam to America, and she ends up holding so many nothingnesss created by war.
The supporter in the memoir besides uses her imaginativeness to make her ain universe and her ain individuality through the building of infinite. That infinite so in bend portrays the writer ‘s province of head. Often, she gets lost and absorbed in her ain creative activity. For case, she recounts one of her experiences during the really first yearss geting in the U.S and remaining in an stray room:
“ I began to play with the ceiling, a game that I used to play with the sky when I was lying in the fishing boat on the sea. At that clip, I thought that everyone and everything I missed was vibrating behind the sky. The game involved looking for a seam to the sky, a yarn I could draw. I told myself that if I could happen the yarn and focal point on it difficult plenty with my eyes, I could rupture the sky unfastened and my female parent, my brother, my gramps, my flip-flops, my favourite shells, would all fall down to me. “ ( 21 )
This is like a fairy narrative. What seems to be impossible in existent life is possible here in her childhood game. Actually, it is the game of her life, the game she plays when she is in the center of nowhere, in a passage zone waiting to be accepted. That sky and that ceiling perform as a barrier that needs drawing down. That infinite in her imaginativeness is the whole universe to her. Another illustration occurs when she finds out about the dish with a butterfly in it. She recalls stating her male parent:
“ When Ba and I lay down to kip one dark, I whispered into Ba ‘s ear, “ I found a butterfly that has a job. What is the job? Ba asked. The butterfly is alive.. ..Good, . Ba said. But it ‘s trapped. Where? Inside a glass diskaˆ¦ Ba said nil. But it wants to acquire out. How do you cognize? Because it said to me: .Shuh-shuh/shuh ” ( 26 )
Here, she is a at bay butterfly that needs releasing, at least in her imaginativeness whereas before, she is person who wants to check unfastened the sky to enlarge the infinite. In instance, the thirst for a topographic point with more freedom and comfort is obvious. The marginalisation leaves her no comfort zone. And that urges her to make her ain infinite. The girl discoveries everything related to her present province problematic. In fact, it is a deficiency of connexion with her dears such as her female parent, her properties, and her civilization in a manner ; furthermore, it is the deficiency of freedom of head in the new land. There is a sense of rawness, of some kind of unrealized province and a sense of loss. A transmutation can non be completed ; therefore the imaginativeness of infinites and the assimilation procedure continue. She, as person who does non belong to anywhere, is seeking to accommodate with a traumatic experience in an unfriendly topographic point.
She imagines herself as the butterflies talking.Shuh-shuh/shuh-shuhaˆ¦
“ I held the disc up to my ear and listened. At first all I heard was the sound of my ain external respiration, but so I heard a soft rustling, like wings brushing against a windowpane. The rustling was a whispered vocal. It was the butterfly ‘s manner of speech production, and I thought I understood it. ” ( 25 )
She is talking from a confined infinite without being physically heard, and she is the at bay butterflies whose voice is silenced in the new society. It is felt and recognized through the hurting, the smothering province and the imprisonment. Such hearable silence can besides be traced elsewhere throughout the book. For illustration, when she talks about her dead grandparents, she writes, “ There is non a hint of blood anyplace except here, in my pharynx, where I am stating you all this. “ ( 99 ) The ground is simple, merely in such an imagined universe can she happen a comfort zone for her individuality and merely in such an imagined universe can her voice be heard.
Le thi diem thuy is successful in stand foring her unstable individuality with the motion and shifting of clip and infinite, doing the universe reflect her province of head. As a affair of fact, in that universe she can besides be the ego she wants to be with all the haunting memories and the everlasting interior struggles entailed by the experience of the war and her remembrances of it.