In the last pages of the novel, Hang realizes that the memories she had of Vietnam from her childhood were actually an exaggeration and even a distortion of reality.
When she thought of Vietnam, she saw in her mind beautiful, picturesque landscapes, flowery gardens, wonderful nature, greenery and vegetation, golden sunsets, and a nation full of culture. Surrounded by winter landscapes and the "hallucinatory whiteness of the Russian snow," she yearned to see and feel the beauty and warmth of her home country again.
Returning to Vietnam from Russia helps Hang understand that these memories were nothing but a product of the nostalgia she felt, a mask that hid the reality of the situation.
How many times, huddled behind my shutters, watching the hallucinatory whiteness of the Russian snow, had I dreamed of these fields, of their greenness warming to gold at dusk, shivering under a caress of wind. I would remember the cry of birds at dawn, the shadow cast by swans as they floated, regal and serene across the rice paddies, the rustle of bamboo. But that beauty, welling up from nostalgia, existed only in my memory.
Behind the paradise she so vividly remembered was a nation filled with suffering, struggles, poverty, dirty politics, and corruption. Hang's realization reflects the sense of disillusionment. The man she sells her late aunt's gold to only reminds her of this, as well as the "despair" she feels.
This man's appearance only made things clearer for me, helped me recognize what had suffocated me. He wasn't guilty of anything: His ugliness was only a cipher, the key to my own despair. I saw his horsey face again. ... Somewhere in my heart, though, I was grateful to him.
In the end, it is implied that Hang, now clearly wiser and no longer disillusioned with reality due to distorted memories, naivete, innocence, and childish ideals, decides to start a new chapter in her life—she plans to sell her aunt's house and leave everything behind, refusing to fall victim to the destructive and restrictive social environment.
Forgive me, my aunt: I'm going to sell this house and leave all this behind. We can honor the wishes of the dead with a few flowers on a grave somewhere. I can't squander my life tending these faded flowers, these shadows, the legacy of past crimes.