How would you summarize “Black-Eyed Women” from The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen?  

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caroline-harrison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“Black Eyed Women” is the first story in The Refugees. It is narrated by an unnamed thirty-eight-year-old woman who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when she was a teenager. She is a ghostwriter (someone who writes material that will be published under another person’s name) who specializes in tragic stories and memoirs. The narrator is visited by the ghost of her brother who died during the journey to the United States. She reveals that he was killed when their boat was attacked by pirates. Her brother disguised her as a boy in an attempt to stop the pirates from raping her; however, when one of the pirates began to look at her more closely, her brother attacked him to protect her and was killed. The pirates then raped the narrator. When the ghost of her brother shows up, he is sopping wet from his swim in the ocean. The arrival of the ghost forces the narrator to deal with her past trauma and move on with her life. The story ends as the narrator decides to start writing her own stories instead of the stories of others. 

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The Refugees

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