Thematic Effects on Novel without a Name

Novel without a name by Duong Thu Huong provided a real insight on war from the Vietnamese point of view. Readers are able to contemplate with the themes that reoccur, what the war truly is like, and the effects it causes on the people, society, and the individual. Three main reoccurring themes of this novel were disillusionment of the war, betrayal, and the loss of innocence that the war causes on a human being. “How proud were we of our youth! Ten years ago the day we left for the front, I had never imagined this.

All we had wanted was to be able to sing songs of glory. Who cared about mortars, machine guns, mines, bayonets, daggers? Anything was good for killing as long as it brought us glory. We pulled the trigger, we shot, we hacked away intoxicated with hatred, we demanded equality with our own hatred” (Huong72) Disillusionment of the war was evident throughout the whole novel; especially with the main character Quan. In the beginning of the war it is possible to say that Quan entered this war experience somewhat ignorant.

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He was this young kid ready to kill and fight for his country but in reality he was not even clearly aware of what they were fighting for. From the beginning to the end, ten years later, Quans interpretation of fighting this war drastically changes. From the quote it is made clear that a glory and pride was everything to him but at the end Quan no longer dreams of glory and heroics, rather the war has become for him a daily matter of survival, of finding food, and dodging bullets, all for a lie. During an epiphany scene with Veing Quan realizes something crucial to his disillusionment of the war.

In this quote Quan came across Vieng and after her begging Gonzalez2 him be intimate with her, he refuses and this is why. “I had been afraid to face myself, scared of the truth. I was a coward. Ten years went by, I had known both glory and humiliation, lived through all its sordid games. I had been defeated from the beginning. The 18 year old boy wondering, lost out there, somewhere just beyond the horizon. I had never really committed myself to war” (Huong 49). Quan is not a person of the war, and he realizes how in reality he never was ready to become a soldier, therefore he sees himself as a coward.

This is when he starts seeing how the situation that he is in is a mistake. Betrayal, to disappoint the hopes or expectations of someone. The main betrayal shown in this novel was the governments towards the people. The Vietnamese government made their civilians assume that the war they were engaging in, at the end was going to be for their own beneficial needs, when in reality it was not. It was all for the elite, for the people with power.

Vietnam wanted to continue being communist and governing the way they had been. Meaning oppressing their people and keeping the people with power on top of the rest. This theory is proven by the conversation that the two corrupt officials have on the train. The way they cynically assess the Vietnamese like the “little fat man” expresses, “Like I said civilization, is a long hard road, and on top of it all, at the end you have to share the power.

For a people as primitive as ours using a religion to guide them through some shortcuts to glory is a hundred times easier than trying to civilize them” (Huong162) This man is not even conscious- stricken, or ashamed about what he is saying on a train full of poor Vietnamese, merchants, and even Quan who is a soldier fighting for them.

With this epiphany Quan apprehends that everything that he has been fighting for was a lie, and all these deaths have been insignificant. Soldiers go through so much for their country when engaged in a war and Gonzalez 3 the last thing that they deserve is to be betrayed by the people who they think are looking out for them. It is dishonorable for the government to that and lie to its citizens. During a war everything suffers, from the environment to the people. However one of the greatest losses that war has is that loss on innocence in the children, and the loss of adequate living on human beings. Living during an era of war is like maturing half a lifetime in a couple of years.

Children have to deal with every day deaths, bombings, machine gun noises, even enlisting in war themselves. From Quan joining war at18 then ten years later realizing that he was never ready for war to the little girl, who acts like a mom when she is only a child, it is apparent that your life will drastically change if involved in a war. The little girl mentioned in this novel is a young six year old who to Quan appears to be like a young mother in a miniature form.

Instead of this child playing with her dolls and pretending to feed them, she is feeding and taking care of a real life soldier. In this quote the little girl had found Quan and went to ask her Aunt for help to take him in her home “Last night I went to pick vegetables to make soup… I found him leaned over and he didn’t answer. (Huong65)

I went to Aunt Lai’s she helped me drag him into the bunker. ” If it wouldn’t have been for this child something bad could have happened to Quan because he was so sick but it was in her nature to take him in and help him. The reason for this is that she was born into an era of war. Since she was born this is all she knows about. War is part of her normal everyday lifestyle.

Apparently war is something that is something bound to happen because it has been occurring throughout history and will continue to happen and with Novel without a Name main themes readers are able to deeply see what war does to soldiers and to any human. Readers can see the reason for the disillusionment of the war, betrayals that can occur during a war and the loss of innocence on the children.

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