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When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

Le Ly Hayslip

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full title ·  When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace

author · Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts

genre · Memoir

language · English

time and place written · 1989, San Diego, California

date of first publication · 1990

publisher · Plume, Penguin Books

narrator · Le Ly Hayslip

protagonist · Le Ly Hayslip

antagonist · War

setting (time) · 1950s–1986

setting (place) · Vietnam, with a few scenes in the Philippines

point of view · First person, parallel narrative

rising action · Le Ly spends her adolescence confused about where her loyalties should lie: with the Viet Cong who raped and exiled her yet fight for her country, or the invading Americans who are her friends.

climax · After her father's death, Le Ly is able to understand her purpose in life and where her loyalty should lie. Le Ly reunites with her family in Danang.

falling action · Le Ly continues to work in Danang to support her family and also to save enough to leave the country. She leaves the country with her two sons without telling her family.

tense · The tense shifts from past to present as the narrator reflects on her childhood in Vietnam during her return.

themes · The enemy in war is war itself; the importance of family bonds; war’s effect on identity

motifs · Mistreatment and abuse by men, Buddhist tradition, family network

symbols · The elephant and the ant; rice, woman warrior

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