First They Killed My Father

Loung Ung Character Analysis

The author and narrator of the memoir, Loung is just five years old when the Khmer Rouge takes over the Cambodian government. Before the genocide she lives a comfortable, middle-class life in Phnom Penh with Ma, Pa, and her six siblings. The most rambunctious of her brothers and sisters, Loung describes herself as an intensely curious, at times unruly child. Though Ma initially scolds Loung for not being ladylike, Loung’s vibrant spirit helps her survive the terror of life under the Khmer Rouge. Because she is so young, Loung has little understanding of Cambodian politics; her narration thus focuses on the overwhelming, incomprehensible cruelty her family endures as they move between rural villages and engage in backbreaking labor for the next four years. Faced with starvation, Loung steals food twice: once from her family’s own hidden stash of rice, and once from an elderly woman outside the infirmary. Loung feels immense guilt for these actions for the rest of her life. Loung is extremely close with Pa, considering herself his favorite child and frequently finding strength by reflecting on his love for her. After Pa’s death, Ma forces Loung, her older sister Chou, and their older brother Kim to leave their home in the village of Ro Leap for their own safety. The girls becoming part of a labor camp, where Loung’s strength catches the attention of a supervisor who sends her to a training camp for child soldiers. Loung sees through attempts at indoctrination and is sustained largely by her anger toward the Khmer Rouge, which she understands has robbed her of her innocence. She eventually escapes Cambodia and moves to the United States with her brother Meng and his wife Eang. In the epilogue to her story, Loung reveals that she assimilated to American life and became an activist who has used her story to spread a message of peace across the world. Upon her return to Cambodia for the first time after fifteen years, she is relieved to find that her bond with Chou—whom she always considered her closest companion—remains unbroken.

Loung Ung Quotes in First They Killed My Father

The First They Killed My Father quotes below are all either spoken by Loung Ung or refer to Loung Ung. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of First They Killed My Father published in 2001.
Chapter 1 Quotes

"Don't you ever sit still? You are five years old. You are the most

troublesome child. Why can't you be like your sisters? How will you ever grow up to be a proper young lady?" Ma sighs. Of course I have heard all this before.

It must be hard for her to have a daughter who does not act like a girl, to be so beautiful and have a daughter like me.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Ma (speaker)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ma saw that he was kind, strong, and handsome, and she eventually fell in love with him. Pa quit the monastery so he could ask her to marry him, and she said yes. However, because Pa is dark-skinned and was very poor, Ma’s parents refused to let them marry.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa , Ma
Page Number: 5
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Strolling slowly along the sidewalk, I watch men crowd around the stands with the pretty young girls at them. I realize that a woman's physical beauty is important, that it never hurts business to have attractive girls selling your products. A beautiful young woman turns otherwise smart men into gawking boys.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

The explosion from the bomb in our trashcan knocked down the walls of our kitchen, but luckily no one was hurt. The police never found out who put the bomb there. My heart is sick at the thought that someone actually tried to hurt Pa. If only these new people in the city could understand that Pa is a very nice man, someone who's always willing to help others, they would not want to hurt him.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa (speaker)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

By the time we arrive at the rendezvous area on the roadside, about thirty people have already gathered there. They squat and sit on the gravel road in four family groups. Many have almond-shaped eyes, thin noses, and light skin, which suggests they might also be of Chinese descent. Pure Khmer have curly black hair, flat noses, full lips, and dark chocolate skin.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker)
Page Number: 45
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Chapter 9 Quotes

"Capitalists should be shot and killed," someone yells from the crowd, glaring at us. Another villager walks over and spits at Pa's feet. Pa's shoulders droop low as he holds his palms together in a gesture of greeting. I cower at the edge of the truck, my heart beating wildly, afraid to get off. Fearing that they might spit at me, I avoid their eyes. They look very mean, like hungry tigers ready to pounce on us. Their black eyes stare at me, full of contempt. I don’t understand why they are looking at me as if I am a strange animal, when in reality we look very much the same.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
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My first red dress, the one Ma made for me for the New Year's celebration. I remember Ma taking my measurements, holding the soft chiffon cloth against my body, and asking me if I liked it. "The color looks so pretty on you," she said, "and the chiffon material will keep you cool." Ma made three identical dresses for Chou, Geak, and me. ... I grind my teeth so hard the pain in my throat moves up to my temples. My hands clench in fists; I continue to stare at my dress. I do not see the soldier's hand reach into his pocket and retrieve from it a box of matches. I do not hear his fingers strike a match against the side of the box. The next thing I know the pile of clothes bursts into flames and my red dress melts like plastic in the fire.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Ma , Chou, Geak
Related Symbols: Loung’s Red Dress
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

As much as I want to become a thief myself, I do not have the courage to do it. It seems a lifetime ago when I was rich and spoiled in Phnom Penh, when children stole from me and I did not care. I could afford to be stolen from, but I judged them harshly for doing so. I thought thieves were worthless, too lazy to work for what they wanted. I understand now that they had to steal to survive.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker)
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
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"It was me, Pa!" my mind screams out. "I stole from the family. I am sorry!" But I say nothing and do not confess to the crime. The guilt weighs heavily on me. I had gotten up in the middle of the night and stolen the rice. I wish I had been still in between the sleeping and waking worlds when I did it, but that is not true. I knew exactly what I was doing when I stole the handful of rice from my family. My hunger was so strong that I did not think of the consequences of my actions. I stepped over the others' sleeping bodies to get to the container. With my heart pounding, I slowly lifted off the top. My hand reached in and took out a handful of uncooked rice and quickly shoved it into my hungry mouth before anyone woke and made me put it back.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker)
Page Number: 89-90
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ma is proud of her heritage but has to hide it before it proves dangerous to us all. Pa says that the Angkar is obsessed with ethnic cleansing. The Angkar hates anyone who is not true Khmer. The Angkar wants to rid Democratic Kampuchea of other races, deemed the source of evil, corruption, and poison, so that people of the true Khmer heritage can rise to power again. I do not know what ethnic cleansing means. I just know that to protect myself, I often have to rub dirt and charcoal on my skin to look as dark as the base people.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa , Ma
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

I am a kid, not even seven years old, but somehow I will kill Pol Pot. I don’t know him, yet I am certain he is the fattest, slimiest snake on earth. I am convinced that there is a monster living inside his body. He will die a painful, agonizing death, and I pray that I will play a part in it. I despise Pol Pot for making me hate so deeply. My hate empowers and scares me, for with hate in my heart I have no room for sadness. Sadness makes me want to die inside. Sadness makes me want to kill myself to escape the hopelessness of my life. Rage makes me want to survive and live so that I may kill. I feed my rage with bloody images of Pol Pot's slain body being dragged in the dirt.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pol Pot
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

In Phnom Penh, Pa once told me the Youns are just like us but with whiter skin and smaller noses. However, Met Bong describes the Youns as savages who are bent on taking over our country and our people. I do not know what to believe. The only world I know beyond this camp is the one Met Bong describes to me. Sitting in the dark, I find myself starting to believe her message about the enemies.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa , Met Bong
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

By taking her food I have helped kill her. But I cannot return the rice. I lift it to my lips as salty tears drip into my throat. The hard rice scrapes down in a dry lump, thus I put a marker on the old woman's grave.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker)
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 20 Quotes

My breath becomes short and shallow; images of the Youns torturing and killing their victims flash before my eyes. I have never seen a Youn and yet these men look remarkably human. They are the same size as our Khmer men and are similarly built … The Youns look more like Ma than many Khmers. They do not look like the devils Met Bong said they were.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Ma , Met Bong
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 21 Quotes

He breathes heavily, his wet lips on my cheek. In a surge of anger, I slap him across the face and push him away.

"Leave me alone! Get away from me!" I scream into his face.

"What's the problem, am I not nice to you? You like me, I know you do." He smirks and approaches me again. I want to rip his lips off his face. "Get away or I'll tell on you!"

"All right," he says, and his eyes glare at me. "Who will believe you? It’s your fault anyway, always tagging along and going places with me." Spitting at his feet, I turn and run away. Paof is right: I cannot fight him. I cannot tell anyone—not even Kim and Chou.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Paof (speaker)
Page Number: 177
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"No one knows how precious you are. You are a diamond in the rough and with a little polishing, you will shine," Pa whispers softly. His gentle words bring a small smile to my lips. The mother may not give me the love I crave, but I know what it feels like to be loved. Pa loved me and believed in me. With that little reminder from him, I know the foster mother is wrong about me. I do possess the one thing I need to make something of myself one day: I have everything my Pa gave me.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa (speaker), Foster mother
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 24 Quotes

One by one, people return to their homes, leaving me standing there alone, staring at the corpse. My mind plays back images of my parents' and sister's murders. Again my heart tears open as I stand there and wonder how they died. Quickly, I push the sadness away. The slumped over corpse reminds me of Pithy in her mother’s arms. Pithy’s head bled in much the same way. His death will not bring any of them back.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Pa , Ma , Keav, Geak, Pithy
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 27 Quotes

Waiting in lines for their ration of food, the women prattle about how the girl brought it upon herself. "After all," they say, "she is Vietnamese. These Vietnamese girls are always laughing loudly, talking, and flirting with men. They wear sexy clothes with long slits up their skirts and swimming suits. They bring bad attention to themselves." My face burns with rage; I run away from the gossips. Are they right? Those people who are always so quick to blame the girls.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker)
Page Number: 230
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Then I lift and smooth my dress once again before laying it down carefully, making sure it will not be wrinkled tomorrow. I am sad thinking I have finally replaced the other red dress that the soldier burned. This is my first dress in five years, and tomorrow I will wear it and show off to everyone. Before the giggles can escape my lips, a feeling of sadness pushes them down. Staring at the dress I realize it will never be the dress Ma made for me. They are both gone.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Ma , Eang
Related Symbols: Loung’s Red Dress
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:
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Epilogue Quotes

Once her glance reached my face and our eyes locked, I saw that they are the same: kind, gentle, and open. Instantly, she covered her mouth and burst into tears and ran over to me. The family was speechless. She took my hand, her tears cool in my palm. Our fingers clasped around each other naturally as if the chain was never broken, and I allowed Chou to lead me to the car while the cousins followed with my bags.

Related Characters: Loung Ung (speaker), Chou
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:
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Loung Ung Character Timeline in First They Killed My Father

The timeline below shows where the character Loung Ung appears in First They Killed My Father. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Phnom Penh, April 1975
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...streets are full of food vendors, children playing, and people on their way to work. Loung Ung is five years old and lives with her family in a third-floor apartment in... (full context)
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The family’s food comes and Loung adds two whole red chilies to her bowl, reflecting that Pa told her that eating... (full context)
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...allow playing cards in the house. He works as a military police captain, and though Loung does not get to see him often because of his job, she insists he is... (full context)
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Loung is extremely curious about the world, though her incessant questioning annoys Ma. After she has... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Ung Family, April 1975
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Loung has three brothers and three sisters, and the family of nine lives in a large,... (full context)
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At night, Loung enjoys sitting with Pa on their balcony and looking at the French colonial buildings alongside... (full context)
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Ma once told Loung that when she was two, someone tried to kill Pa because he was a government... (full context)
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Loung describes Pa’s past. He was born in a rural village in 1931. His father died... (full context)
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Meng, Loung’s eighteen-year-old brother, joins them on the balcony. Meng, like Pa, is soft spoken and kind.... (full context)
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As a middle-class family, the Ungs have a television and two telephones. Loung also notes that her family seems to have more leisure time than others; a maid... (full context)
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Pa takes the children swimming after school on Sundays at “the club.” There Loung sees her first “Barang”—which Chou says means “white man.” Keav corrects her, saying Barang actually... (full context)
Chapter 3: Takeover, April 17, 1975
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Loung is playing hopscotch in the street on a Thursday afternoon because Pa has kept all... (full context)
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Everyone has stopped what they are doing to watch the men. Loung joins in the cheering, though she has no idea what is going on. When she... (full context)
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...in vehicles and on foot. The soldiers shout at citizens to surrender all weapons, and Loung notes that they no longer seem friendly. Keav explains to Loung that they are called... (full context)
Chapter 4: Evacuation, April 1975
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...paradise,” but April is the hottest month of the year. Khouy wraps a scarf around Loung’s head and tells her not to look over the truck’s sides. Thousands of families can... (full context)
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...been separated. Khouy says many old and sick people did not survive the journey, and Loung understands why he told her to keep her head down. The soldiers shot and killed... (full context)
Chapter 5: Seven-Day Walk, April 1975
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...Others enter the temple anyway, and they hear gunshots. On the third day of walking Loung observes that there haven’t been any American planes in the sky. She is excited because... (full context)
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...government. Pa says they must pretend to be peasants, and that only he should speak. Loung watches the soldiers empty a man’s bag, and, upon discovering a Lon Nol army uniform,... (full context)
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That night Loung dreams she is at a Lunar New Year’s celebration filled with fireworks. When she wakes... (full context)
Chapter 6: Krang Truop, April 1975
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...dirt floor. With his own children, seventeen people are staying under one roof. Kim scolds Loung for being snobbish about their new living arrangements, saying Uncle Leang was brave to beg... (full context)
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Keav comforts Loung and says she will look after her. The next morning, Loung wakes up after the... (full context)
Chapter 7: Waiting Station, July 1975
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One morning, Loung wakes to find her family again packing up. With the arrival of new city people... (full context)
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...is bumpy and uncomfortable. When they finally stop that evening, everyone jumps out to stretch. Loung watches Khouy, who has a black belt in karate, do so, and remembers how much... (full context)
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...to wait for people to come and bring them back to their village. Pa tells Loung they had to leave Krang Truop because new people from Phnom Penh had arrived and... (full context)
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...Battambang as they were supposed to, but Pa says that they cannot argue. Kim tells Loung she must look after herself and not trust anyone anymore. He says it is best... (full context)
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Curious, Loung slips away from her family’s watchful eyes to look around the “waiting station.” There are... (full context)
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Ma calls Loung back and the family boards another truck. Two middle-aged men in black pants stand next... (full context)
Chapter 8: Anlungthmor, July 1975
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...air is humid. The village representative leads them to a small trail up a mountain. Loung finds it difficult to hike in her flimsy flip flops. They reach the village by... (full context)
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The family huddles together in their hut for warmth at night. Loung gets a fever the second night and hallucinates that ghosts and monsters coming to kill... (full context)
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The family is again picked up by a Khmer Rouge truck. Loung feels used to the routine of moving by this point. Meng says that while three... (full context)
Chapter 9: Ro Leap, November 1975
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...the Khmer Rouge. Someone shouts that capitalists should be killed and spits at Pa’s feet. Loung can’t understand why the villagers look at them so angrily when they are “very much... (full context)
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...they have not been “corrupted by the West” and supported the revolution. Kim explains to Loung that a capitalist is someone from the city, and that the Khmer Rouge view science... (full context)
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...to avoid Western vanity. One by one a soldier dumps out each new family’s clothing. Loung watches in anguish as her beloved red dress, which Ma made her for New Years,... (full context)
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...soldiers monitoring for laziness or traitors. Schooling of any kind is not allowed. After this, Loung falls asleep. When she awakes she learns that a doctor, his wife, and their three... (full context)
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...are “bullies” who tell the new people what to do. Finally, the new people like Loung’s family who have been forced from cities are the lowest class. They have no freedom,... (full context)
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...It is clear from marks on his skin that they also abuse him, however, and Loung understands her ten-year-old brother’s sacrifice to help his family. Pa has grown extremely thin, and... (full context)
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...Angkar in exchange for more food, or in some instances to save their own lives. Loung works in the garden with her younger siblings, while her parents and older siblings toil... (full context)
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...ninth century by Khmer kings and one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. Loung remembers marveling at the sacred temples with Pa, who said it was where the gods... (full context)
Chapter 10: Ro Labor Camps, January 1976
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...her from being raped by soldiers. This happened to Davi, the pretty teen daughter of Loung’s neighbors who was taken by soldiers one night. She returned covered in bruises and refused... (full context)
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...the village, but these visits become increasingly infrequent. Laine never comes to the village, so Loung knows little about her sister-in-law apart from the fact that her marriage is one of... (full context)
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...including the fourteen-year-old Keav, are forced to go to Kong Cha Lat, a work camp. Loung remembers how beautiful Keav seemed in Phnom Penh, and how much pride she took in... (full context)
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Loung worries that the soldiers will kill them because they are educated. Many families commit suicide... (full context)
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...from China for weapons and supplies, and now the Angkar has to pay China back. Loung cannot understand why the villagers hate the Chinese so much. Kim says that they may... (full context)
Chapter 11: New Year’s, April 1976
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Pa and Ma worry that malnutrition has stunted Loung’s growth. The Khmer Rouge does not allow New Year’s celebrations, despite it being Cambodia’s biggest... (full context)
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Many have died from starvation and disease, and Loung eats things she would not have touched at home, from snakes and rats to insects.... (full context)
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...to bury the dead, whose bodies rot in the sun and become full of maggots. Loung has grown numb to watching people dispose of bodies in communal graves. Her neighbor Chong’s... (full context)
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...his identity remains mysterious. People say he is a fat, brilliant soldier with “kind eyes”; Loung wonders if those eyes can see them starving. Chong becomes known as the village “crazy... (full context)
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...This rice keeps the family from starving to death, though they must keep it hidden. Loung steals from the rice container one evening. Despite sensing that Pa knows her guilt and... (full context)
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Loung begins to close herself off from her family, and constantly fights with Chou. When the... (full context)
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Chou grabs Loung’s hand when they leave for work in the communal garden, and Loung knows she has... (full context)
Chapter 12: Keav, August 1976
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Back at the hut, Loung imagines what it must be like for Keav at the camp: in barracks with eighty... (full context)
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...bring Keav back to the village, and he and Ma go to get her while Loung again imagines her eldest sister’s mindset: she must be happy to see Ma but frustrated... (full context)
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Loung asks Chou what happens when people die. Chou responds that they sleep for three days... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pa, December 1976
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The next night Loung reflects that the world is still beautiful despite their suffering, and wonders if there are... (full context)
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...of the next day, but he does not return. The sunset is beautiful, which makes Loung angry amidst their suffering. She reflects that war has made her full of rage, and... (full context)
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...continues to sit outside in the darkness until Ma sends the children into the hut. Loung hopes Pa died with dignity, and that the soldiers did not torture him. He once... (full context)
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After three days Loung understands that Pa must truly be dead. She feels as if she has poison in... (full context)
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Ma says she will always have hope that Pa is still alive, but Loung refuses to allow herself hope. She worries how Ma, who was very dependent on Pa,... (full context)
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...often, always with casual excuses and the promise that they will return the next morning. Loung tries to remember their faces so she can one day come back to kill them.... (full context)
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...on Ma because of her white skin, but she works hard. One day she takes Loung with her to catch shrimp. There are harsh punishments for stealing, but Ma quickly gives... (full context)
Chapter 14: Ma’s Little Monkey, April 1977
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Another New Year’s has passed, making Loung seven, Geak five, Chou ten, and Kim twelve. In keeping with Pa’s request, Kim acts... (full context)
Chapter 15: Leaving Home, May 1977
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...to China in exchange for weapons when they think the Vietnamese are about to attack. Loung reflects that they have all changed from who they were in Phnom Penh: Kim rarely... (full context)
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...they reach work camps, where they will say they are orphans and give new names. Loung cries that she wants to stay, but Ma says she does not have a choice,... (full context)
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Loung’s sadness turns to anger as she walks. She thinks Ma is weak, reflecting that the... (full context)
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...will protect them, and the children must chant “Angkar! Angkar! Angkar!” The other children bully Loung and Chou for their white skin. When one girl, Rarnie, calls Loung a “stupid Chinese-Youn,”... (full context)
Chapter 16: Child Soldiers, August 1977
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Chou is demoted to a cook. After three months, Met Bong tells Loung that she is the hardest worker at the camp and the Angkar needs people like... (full context)
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Loung is the youngest of eighty girls there, some of whom have family in nearby villages... (full context)
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After the speeches, four boys begin to play instruments, laughing and teasing one another. Loung, who has not heard laughter since the takeover, is shocked by their happiness. A group... (full context)
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Loung, who gives her name as Sarene to protect her identity, is at first excited to... (full context)
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...recruiting all children from age eight to help fight against the Youns. Met Bong tells Loung that she is ahead of the other village children; she says that anyone can learn... (full context)
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Loung is lonely at the new camp without Chou, who was her closest companion in Phnom... (full context)
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...happens. The children get gory details of the ways Khmer soldiers mutilate the Youns, which Loung reflects is an attempt to numb them to violence. People start being pulled from the... (full context)
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Loung spies Met Bong resting her head on the shoulder of the boys’ leader, and wonders... (full context)
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Loung has recurring vivid dreams of being attacked by a Khmer Rouge soldier or some sort... (full context)
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...the girls to take loaded guns and shoot anything that moves. Though Pa once told Loung that the Youns were just like them, she now does not know what to believe.... (full context)
Chapter 17: Gold for Chicken, November 1977
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...the Youn scare over, the children are allowed a day of rest every few months. Loung lies and says she is visiting Chou and then walks to Ro Leap to see... (full context)
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Ma is excited to see Loung and takes her permission slip, which is simply a piece of paper that says Loung... (full context)
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Ma tells Loung of attempting to trade her jewelry for some chicken in a nearby village. Other women... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Last Gathering, May 1978
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Famine hits again and Loung grows weak. She gains a permission slip from the reluctant Met Bong to go to... (full context)
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Loung hears Ma calling to her and thinks she has gone crazy until she sees that... (full context)
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Loung is still starving and steals a ball of rice from an old woman in desperation.... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Walls Crumble, November 1978
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Six months pass. Rumors of Youn invasions spread, and Loung spends hours learning to fight in combat. Met Bong stuffs clothes with leaves and straw... (full context)
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Loung feels an overwhelming urge to see Ma, and sneaks away from the camp. She rushes... (full context)
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Loung pictures how they could have died: First they are marched away by Khmer soldiers through... (full context)
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Loung walks back to the camp, so overwhelmed with grief that she has no memory of... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Youn Invasion, January 1979
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Met Bong tells the children at Loung’s camp that the monstrous Youns have invaded, adding that they are raping women and killing... (full context)
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The children rejoin the mob of people and walk until night. When they rest, Loung overhears people cursing Pol Pot’s name and discussing the Khmer Rouge’s defeat by the Youns.... (full context)
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Neither Kim nor Chou mention Ma and Geak, so Loung assumes they know they are dead. Kim says they will walk to Pursat City to... (full context)
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...walking, three men in “green clothes with funny round cone-shaped hats” appear before the crowd. Loung realizes they are Youns, and is surprised at how “remarkably human” they look, given all... (full context)
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...camp with guns, but also pat children on the head and flirt with the women. Loung overhears people saying that the Youns are there to protect them, having marched into Cambodia... (full context)
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Loung wishes there were an adult to care for them, but knows they are on their... (full context)
Chapter 21: The First Foster Family, January 1979
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A week later the man says he has found a family for the children. Loung is excited to be part of a family again, and even happier when she sees... (full context)
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...children coldly and instructs them to sleep in the corner of their hut. One afternoon Loung sees her digging through their things and pulling out Ma’s prized silk shirt, which she... (full context)
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While gathering water from a stream one day, Chou and Loung befriend a girl with pretty brown eyes named Pithy. She is the same age as... (full context)
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One such morning Loung forgets their water canteen. When they come across a Vietnamese soldier in the woods, Loung... (full context)
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Upon returning home, their foster mother scolds Loung and Chou for bringing back too little wood and calls Loung stupid and lazy for... (full context)
Chapter 22: Flying Bullets, February 1979
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Loung hates her foster family but knows living with them is their safest option. Villagers talk... (full context)
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Three days later Loung is tasked with bringing food to her foster grandmother in the hospital two miles away.... (full context)
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Loung sees a badly burned little boy in the hospital surrounded by two nurses and an... (full context)
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The next day Loung’s foster father brings her foster grandmother home from the hospital and tells Loung, Chou, and... (full context)
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...villagers have begun wearing colorful clothes again. As she does her new foster family’s laundry, Loung thinks wistfully of the red dresses Ma made for her and Chou for New Year’s.... (full context)
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...the girls come across a decomposing body in the woods. Though she cannot be sure, Loung asserts it is a Khmer Rouge soldier who deserved to die; it is too difficult... (full context)
Chapter 23: Khmer Rouge Attack, February 1979
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...the river, where they take shelter in an abandoned warehouse along with many other villagers. Loung sees Pithy and her family and motions for them to sit next to her. Everyone... (full context)
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The next morning, a rocket hits the warehouse. Loung reaches for Pithy’s hand only to find that her skull has been smashed in, creating... (full context)
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...with bayonets, and eating their victims’ livers for strength. When they return to the village, Loung sees blood everywhere and worries about stepping on a landmine, which the Khmer Rouge often... (full context)
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...the three younger siblings away from their foster family. Though Meng looks weathered and tired, Loung still sees Meng as he was in Phnom Penh. He leads them to the tents... (full context)
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...one night on a makeshift raft of logs, and in the morning reached Pursat City. Loung feels safe now that she is reunited with her brothers. Meng says they will gather... (full context)
Chapter 24: The Execution, March 1979
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...then him to a field and tie him to a chair for a public execution. Loung’s heart races with the excitement of seeing revenge for her murdered family members, and she... (full context)
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...killed their families. One, in her sixties or seventies, smashes his head with a hammer. Loung wonders if this is how Pa died. The woman hits him again and again, spattering... (full context)
Chapter 25: Back to Bat Deng, April 1979
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At the end of April, Loung and her siblings pack their things and leave the displacement camp. Two women who have... (full context)
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...will stay for the night. A husband, wife, and their sick-looking baby are already there. Loung thinks the wife looks exactly like Ma. Before leaving the next morning, Loung discretely wraps... (full context)
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...on his bicycle. He gives Chou and Kim sweet rice cakes. He does not recognize Loung at first. (full context)
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...tell their aunt and uncle, who were considered base people in their village, what happened. Loung says nothing about her own experiences, reflecting that while her memories used to make her... (full context)
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Loung learns that Bat Deng was liberated weeks before Pursat, and that the Khmer Rouge were... (full context)
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...or table, they walk around barefoot with wicker baskets on their hips. At one point, Loung approaches a woman with ruby earrings, but the woman shoos her away. (full context)
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Meng says he will take Loung, as she is still young enough to learn English and get an education when they... (full context)
Chapter 26: From Cambodia to Vietnam, October 1979
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Meng and Loung pass through Phnom Penh, where the streets are full of holes and many buildings have... (full context)
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The fisherman hides Meng and Loung under a tarp covered with fish as they enter Vietnam. They then get on a... (full context)
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Meng teaches Loung about America and also says she must no longer call Vietnamese people “youns,” because it... (full context)
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...where the air is stale and many get seasick. The crew takes a liking to Loung and allows her on deck more than the others. The journey is dangerous. On the... (full context)
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...Before letting the passengers return, everyone must line up and give them something. Eang gives Loung Pa’s jade Buddha pendant so she will have something to give them. The pirates ransack... (full context)
Chapter 27: Lam Sing Refugee Camp, February 1980
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Loung is shocked to see a Vietnamese girl swimming in nothing but a red bathing suit.... (full context)
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Months pass, and Loung and her family are among the poorest of the camp. On June 5, Meng announces... (full context)
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That night Loung thinks of Pa as she drifts off to sleep, worrying that his spirit will not... (full context)
Epilogue
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Many years later, Loung reflects on her life in America. Determined to fit in, she immersed herself in American... (full context)
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...jobs at IBM despite having little knowledge of American culture, and support the entire family. Loung notes that current immigration laws mean their family will likely never be reunited, however. Loung... (full context)
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After fifteen years Loung returns to Cambodia for the first time, both nervous and excited. Her family greet her... (full context)