Ha was a Vietnam refugee seeking comfort from the war in America. There were 130,000 immigrants that came over here after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Not all Vietnamese immigrants came after the war; there were three waves of immigration from Vietnam: 1975-78, 1978-1980, and 1980-85. The first wave involved those who were in contact or involved with military personnel, like Ha was in the novel since her father was missing in action. The second wave came from those called “boat people,” for this movement Vietnamese refugees had to stay elsewhere in a refugee camp until they’d received contact and approval to immigrate elsewhere. The government was concerned that enclaves would be created by Vietnameese immigrants, but it happened in several counties in the US. Here in America, Vietnamese refugees have been attacked and sometimes killed because they were associated with the US losing the Vietnam war.
PELAUD, ISABELLE THUY. “History.” This Is All I Choose to Tell: History and Hybridity in Vietnamese American Literature, Temple UP, 2011, pp. 7-21. JSTOR, www.jstor.org.udel.idm.oclc.org/stable/j.ctt14bt8kb.6. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.
Tet, The Vietnamese Lunar New Year Holiday
The novel begins and ends with Ha’s family celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. The Tet holiday is used in Vietnam as a way to promote nationalism through televised events and rituals. During Tet, family ancestors are celebrated, especially national war heroes, where they recall crucial war victories and moments. This praise of military heroes opens up the opportunity for those in the state to practice nationalism. In larger cities during Tet, overseas Vietnamese are allowed to come and participate in the Tet festivities. They used to have Taoist and religious rituals during Tet, but since the 1950s this was erased, proving that Tet is a state-created way of promoting nationalism in the country. One of the things that is remembered in Vietnam on this day is the Tet Offensive, which is a military initiative that allowed Vietnam to push Americans out of the way during the Vietnam War. Today, it is celebrated with a Rice Cake festival where thousands of people gather to watch a parade.
McAllister, Patrick. “Religion, the State, and the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.” Anthropology Today, vol. 29, no. 2, 2013, pp. 18–22., www.jstor.org/stable/23486374. Accessed 13 May 2020.
Sabrina Pierce ’20