How would you describe Liem from The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen?

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caroline-harrison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Liem is the main character of “The Other Man” from The Refugees. He is eighteen years old and grew up in Long Xuyen, Vietnam. When he was seventeen, his family sent him to work in Saigon. While he was there, Liem learned a bit of English and realized that he needed to flee the communist regime should Saigon fall to the People’s Army of Vietnam (the fall of Saigon was preceded by a mass evacuation of American troops as well as an exodus of Vietnamese citizens who feared being seen as supporters of the southern Vietnamese government). Liem boards a barge and travels to Camp Pendleton in San Diego. He is eventually sponsored by a Parrish, a wealthy San Franciscan man, and moves into Parrish’s comfortable home. Liem finds work at a liquor store and is generally happy with his new life in the United States. Though he is grateful to Parrish, Liem finds himself attracted to Parrish’s lover, Marcus, and they have an affair while Parrish is out of town. Through his affair with Marcus, Liem learns more about his sexuality and begins to think more deeply about how he can shape his own identity.

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The Refugees

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