Inside Out and Back Again

by

Thanhhà Lai

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The Commander Character Analysis

The commander is the captain of the navy ship that and her family board to leave South Vietnam. Hà likes and respects the commander, which she realizes is because when he’s in his navy uniform, he looks like Father. The commander does everything in his power to get his passengers to safety, taking a slow river route to avoid bombs or capture and then doling out rations slowly to ensure everyone on the ship has enough to last until they’re rescued.
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The Commander Character Timeline in Inside Out and Back Again

The timeline below shows where the character The Commander appears in Inside Out and Back Again. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Saigon
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Saigon Is Gone. Hà listens to Mother’s swishing fan, whispering adults, and faraway bombs. The commander told everyone to go below deck, even though the ship is taking a safe route... (full context)
Part 2: At Sea
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
...tells Uncle Son that Hà needs a bathroom, and Hà is allowed to use the commander’s cabin. It’s white, clean, and “worth the embarrassment.”  (full context)
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...sea for three days. Finally, the ship hits the sea and heads for Thailand. The commander gives the okay for his men to cook and for people to go above deck... (full context)
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Last Respects. Hà has now been at sea two weeks. The commander calls everyone above deck to formally lower the South Vietnamese flag, since the country no... (full context)
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
...a while and a lot of shouting, the ship moves on with one engine. The commander explains that it was risky to take the river, and Thailand is a lot farther... (full context)
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...There’s a huge American ship nearby, with men in white uniforms waving and smiling. The commander of Hà’s ship is now in his fancy navy uniform, and Hà realizes why she... (full context)