First They Killed My Father

Meng Character Analysis

Loung’s oldest brother is eighteen when the Khmer Rouge takes over. The valedictorian of his high school class before the genocide, the kind, soft-spoken Meng had planned to go to France to earn his degree. After being forced to leave Phnom Penh, however, he and Loung’s brother Khouy are sent to a labor camp. At first, he and Khouy are allowed to return to Ro Leap once every three months; they bring life-saving extra rice for the family on these visits, but are eventually prevented from returning. After the Khmer Rouge is defeated, Meng reunites with Loung, Chou, and Kim in the Vietnamese displaced peoples’ camp in Pursat City. Meng later marries Eang and makes arrangements to smuggle himself, his wife, and Loung out of Cambodia and into a Thai refugee camp. There, he is baptized in the hopes of attracting a church sponsor for the family’s journey to America. He is able to get sponsorship and moves to Vermont with Loung and Eang. Despite having no knowledge of American culture, he and Eang are able to secure jobs at IBM and support their growing family in the U.S. as well as in Cambodia. Meng has two daughters, whom Loung cares for as she grows up. Loung believes Meng never stops feeling guilty for not being able to bring the rest of the family to America.
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Meng Character Timeline in First They Killed My Father

The timeline below shows where the character Meng appears in First They Killed My Father. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Ung Family, April 1975
Women’s Treatment in Times of War Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Meng, Loung’s eighteen-year-old brother, joins them on the balcony. Meng, like Pa, is soft spoken and... (full context)
Chapter 4: Evacuation, April 1975
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
...can carry and begins to walk. Soldiers stop Pa and demand he give them his, Meng’s, and Khouy’s watches, which he does without hesitation. He whispers to the children that they... (full context)
Chapter 5: Seven-Day Walk, April 1975
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Khouy and Meng enter a temple to fetch water from its well, but a soldier is guarding it... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...people become ill from heatstroke and dehydration but are forced to keep moving. That night Meng, Khouy, and Kim forage for food and return with some brown sugar, much to Loung’s... (full context)
Chapter 8: Anlungthmor, July 1975
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
...and are often moved from place to place by the Khmer Rouge. Pa, Khouy, and Meng must do manual labor every day. Food becomes increasingly scarce, and they catch animals to... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
...a Khmer Rouge truck. Loung feels used to the routine of moving by this point. Meng says that while three hundred people moved into Anlungthmor five months earlier, by now two... (full context)
Chapter 10: Ro Labor Camps, January 1976
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Laine and Khouy are married and sent to a labor camp. The soldiers also force Meng to go to the labor camp. The brothers bring extra food home when they are... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pa, December 1976
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...Ma hope. But weeks pass, and he never returns. The family continues to depend on Meng and Khouy to bring them extra food, but Khouy gets sick and Meng is kept... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Last Gathering, May 1978
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...and thinks she has gone crazy until she sees that Ma, Geak, Chou, Kim, and Meng are, in fact, all really there; it is the only infirmary for miles and all... (full context)
Chapter 23: Khmer Rouge Attack, February 1979
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...the Youn camp to work each day he asks if anyone has heard anything about Meng or Khouy. One day he returns with Meng beside him, who takes the three younger... (full context)
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
That night Meng and Khouy tell their story. When the Youn invasion happened, they were in a labor... (full context)
Chapter 25: Back to Bat Deng, April 1979
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
Women’s Treatment in Times of War Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...pack their things and leave the displacement camp. Two women who have been staying with Meng and Khouy for safety join them. Looking back at Pursat, Loung notes how normal the... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
After eighteen days of walking they near Bat Deng. Meng and Khouy ask people they meet on the road to give word to their uncles,... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Back at Uncle Leang’s hunt, Aunt Leang gives them new clothes. Khouy and Meng tell their aunt and uncle, who were considered base people in their village, what happened.... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
An uncle arranges for Meng to marry Eang, a Chinese girl in her twenties who was away at school during... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...that most of her family escaped to Vietnam and are alive and well. Eang and Meng go to Vietnam, where the economy is stronger. Meng returns four days later and talks... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Meng says he will take Loung, as she is still young enough to learn English and... (full context)
Chapter 26: From Cambodia to Vietnam, October 1979
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Meng and Loung pass through Phnom Penh, where the streets are full of holes and many... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
The fisherman hides Meng and Loung under a tarp covered with fish as they enter Vietnam. They then get... (full context)
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Meng teaches Loung about America and also says she must no longer call Vietnamese people “youns,”... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Women’s Treatment in Times of War Theme Icon
...dangerous. On the third day of they run into a pirate ship, but Loung and Meng have prepared by hiding their bits of gold inside candies; other passengers swallowed their gemstones... (full context)
Chapter 27: Lam Sing Refugee Camp, February 1980
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Using the gold hidden in their clothes, Meng, Eang, and Eang’s sister, whom they meet at the camp, are able to buy a... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...and Loung and her family are among the poorest of the camp. On June 5, Meng announces they are finally going to America the next week. No longer needing to save... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...to worry and that he will find her wherever she goes. The next morning Loung, Meng, and Eang go to the Bangkok airport. Thinking of Pa, Loung boards the airplane for... (full context)
Epilogue
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...tried to Americanize herself to erase memories of the war. Chou often wrote letters to Meng asking about her, but Loung never wrote back. (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
...way to the village. Kim made it to a Thai refugee camp in 1988. Though Meng filled out reunification papers, the United States reduced the number of accepted refugees and Thai... (full context)
The Price of Survival  Theme Icon
Genocide, Racism, and Propaganda Theme Icon
The Unbreakable Bonds of Family Theme Icon
Meng and Eang live in Vermont with their two daughters. Both obtained jobs at IBM despite... (full context)