2. “No,” my father replied sadly, “don’t hate Chin - and don’t hate Ba for marrying him. Hate the war for doing what it did to them both.”
This quotation occurs in Chapter 6, when Trong comforts an enraged Le Ly with these words. The husband of Le Ly’s older sister, Ba, leaves for Hanoi to train and enlist with the Viet Cong. During his absence, his cousin Chin starts to make inappropriate advances toward Ba. Chin, being a Republican official, is able to abuse his office and position as a way to spend time with Ba. After threatening her with imprisonment, Ba agrees to marry him and forget her first husband.
Although he is explicitly discussing his daughter’s unfortunate situation, Trong’s words apply to all of the people affected by the war. For Trong, there is no right side and no wrong side; the enemy is not the Americans or the Republicans or the Viet Cong. The enemy is always war. His perception of the war is rooted in his strong Buddhist beliefs that the purpose of life is to care for your family, your land, and the memories of your ancestors. War is antagonistic to this way of life. This is one of the most valuable lessons that Le Ly’s father taught her. War is the villain that made neighbors report on each other, made soldiers kill children, made wives abandon their husbands and children their parents. By understanding that wars—not people—are the enemy, Le Ly is able to forgive those who wronged her and to find peace in her life.