5. Like they say, Mot cau mhin, chin car lanh (One word of forgiveness brings back nine gentle favors).

This passage, from Chapter 14, is a village saying that is rooted in Buddhism. Le Ly, despite the places that she traveled and the roles in life that she fulfilled, remained at heart a peasant girl from a rich Buddhist tradition. Her roots in this tradition help her find the guidance and methods in order to make sense of the war and what the war does to her family. This saying is anchored in Buddhist thought. It demonstrates the central and ongoing importance of family and ancestral tradition to Le Ly’s life and work. Forgiveness, an important theme in her life, is a lesson learned from the war. For Le Ly, the only way in which to overcome the horrors of the war and to find peace is through forgiveness. She demonstrates this adage in her own life. When she is touring the countryside with the icy Communist Party inspectors, Le Ly forgives them their treatment of her and buys them a special lunch. In return for this act of forgiveness and kindness, the officers share with her many anecdotes and real stories of what happened to her homeland in her absence. Another example is her forgiveness of Anh for his abandonment of her and their child. In return, he becomes a trusted and true friend, helping her many years later. Her examples and attitude of forgiveness prompt her mother to act in kind, and she forgives Ba for hoarding all of the gifts that Le Ly sent from the United States. In addition, her goal in writing her memoir of the war is to teach to a larger audience the lessons of forgiveness and, by doing so, help mend the war wounds of two nations.