The Refugees Characters

The main characters in The Refugees include Liem, James Carver, and Thomas.

  • Liem, the protagonist of “The Other Man,” is a young Vietnamese immigrant who moves in with an older gay man and his younger boyfriend in San Francisco in 1975.
  • James Carver, the protagonist of “The Americans,” is an American Vietnam War veteran who disapproves of his daughter's decision to live and work in Vietnam.

  • Phuong, the protagonist of “Fatherland,” is a young Vietnamese woman who is disillusioned by meeting her glamorous older half-sister, who visits from the United States.


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Last Updated on January 6, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3387

The Narrator of "Black-Eyed Women"

The unnamed narrator of "Black-Eyed Women" works as a ghostwriter, specializing in memoirs that tell the stories of people who survive horrific and unusual tragedies, like losing their legs in war. Her most recent project was about the sole survivor of a plane crash, a man who lost his entire family in the crash. There's a certain irony in the fact that she works as a ghostwriter and also happens to see a ghost. She feels survivor's guilt over the death of her older brother, who was killed while trying to protect her from pirates. Her brother's unexpected return as a ghost allows the narrator to find some resolution after years of struggling with the loss. She then decides to stop ghostwriting and write her own book of modern ghost stories.

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The Ghost

When the ghost of the narrator's brother first appears in "Black-Eyed Woman," he's soaking wet and shows himself only to his mother. Later, the mother explains to the narrator that her brother swam across oceans in order to reach them. When he reveals himself to his sister, she offers him some dry clothes. This brings up old memories of his death and how he was killed by pirates while trying to protect his younger sister from being raped. During one of their talks, the narrator asks why he died and she lived. He tells her, "You died too. . . . You just don't know it." This upsets the narrator but eventually leads to a moment of catharsis.

Victor Devoto

Victor Devoto is the sole survivor of a horrific plane crash in which he lost his wife and child. He hires the narrator of "Black-Eyed-Women" to ghostwrite his memoir. In their phone interviews, it's clear that he is haunted by the plane crash and is struggling to cope with the loss. He can sometimes feel the presence of his lost loved ones and is always listening for the sound of his son's voice. When the narrator asks if Victor is afraid of ghosts, he says, "You aren't afraid of the things you believe in."


Liem, the main character in "The Other Man," is a Vietnamese immigrant who is sponsored by Parrish Coyne, a man who worked for decades as a corporate lawyer. It's October 1975, and Liem is fleeing the communist regime in Vietnam. He left in April, boarding a barge and arriving in Camp Pendleton, San Diego, where he awaited sponsorship. Though grateful to Parrish for giving him a place to live in San Francisco, Liem still becomes infatuated with Marcus, Parrish's lover, and has an affair with him when Parrish is out of town. In falling for Marcus, Liem faces some unexpected truths about his own sexuality and comes to think of the United States as a place where he can shape his own future and identity.

Parrish Coyne

In "The Other Man," Parrish Coyne is a middle-aged British man and former corporate accountant who has lived in San Francisco for years. His live-in-boyfriend, Marcus, relies on him for support, and Parrish pays for Marcus to finish school. Parrish has become deeply involved in politics since leaving his job in corporate finance. It's this political activism that takes him to Washington, D.C., the weekend Liem and Marcus have a sexual encounter. It's implied that Parrish never learns of the affair.

Marcus Chan

Marcus lives with Parrish in a...

(The entire section contains 3387 words.)

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