When Heaven and Earth Changed Places
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
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!