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Binh and the limits of Language/image

FrigginSushi's picture

We talked in class about why any part of the book never addressed Binh flat out as "gay" as well as the fact that Binh feels he is singled out in France, but wouldn't be in Vietnam because there are others that look like him. It made me think about the previous class where we discussed the issue of having an image in our head that correlates to a word and just how imaginative we can be when we read or when we look at a picture; what are the limits of language and images.

In my mind, I can see Binh as stuck in his own image with limited words to describe himself. Others will see him and judge him for what he looks like first and foremost because he stands out. People already have his image in front of them and so they only have so many words to identify him. His image as a vietnamese man is stopping others from knowing Binh more deeply. By not directly addressing Binh as a gay man, I think Truong is giving the character more agency in the book. She doesn't want him to be completely identifable and by using the label "gay", Binh would be trapped in his own image and the gaze of others.

The book is constantly mentioning Binh's speech and how he can't find the right words in French to match his ideas in Vietnamese. By bringing up his limits in communicating with people, Truong is emphasizing another aspect we covered in Tuesday's class about how limited language can realy be.