When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

by: Le Ly Hayslip

Anh

Characters Anh

A wealthy businessman with a large household, Anh represents the capitalist class in Vietnam; the change in him represents the change in this class due to the war. Although Anh was not initially as affected by the war as the peasant villagers, the war finally bankrupted him, and the Communists repossessed his home and business. After the war, he divorced his wife and remarried, changing from an elegant and expensive wife to a more communist and proletariat one. Le Ly returns to Saigon to find him no longer living in a palatial estate but in an impoverished neighborhood, no longer owning his own business, but working for a government factory. Although Anh never fully embraces Communism, he accepts it and lives with it, but like Le Ly, he does what he needs to do in order to survive.

The relationship between Anh and Le Ly is also symbolic of the relationship between Vietnam and the United States. Starting as a dangerous yet passionate affair, they grew apart, yet they are always connected by what they share: their son and their common suffering from the war. Over the years, their relationship changes from lovers to siblings. Just as all those involved—Anh and Le Ly, Americans and Vietnamese, businessmen, and village girls—are forever connected by common experience, so are the two countries as siblings of war.