The Happiest Refugee


Anh Do

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Themes and Colors
Migration and Luck Theme Icon
Poverty and Hardship Theme Icon
Courage and Perseverance Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Betrayal and Forgiveness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Happiest Refugee, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Migration and Luck

In the memoir The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do tells of the fantastic journey that he took with his family as a young infant, as they sought to escape their native country of Vietnam shortly after the end of the Vietnam War (1954-1975). The family—consisting of a large group of aunts, uncles, children, and others—flees the poverty-stricken Communist-ruled country and ends up in Australia, where they make a new life for themselves. Anh’s account highlights…

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Poverty and Hardship

In The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do narrates the story of his life—beginning with his family’s escape from their native country of Vietnam, to their arrival in Australia, where Anh and his family face poverty and hardship as they attempt to establish new lives in their adoptive home. And yet, Anh Do’s story suggests that as difficult as it was to face such poverty and hardship, privation can also teach one strength of character, as…

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Courage and Perseverance

In The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do tells of his family’s struggles as they flee their native country of Vietnam to establish a new life in Australia. This is a journey full of perils—first as the family escapes Vietnam on a dangerous sea journey shortly after the end of the Vietnam War, and then as they face hardship and poverty in Australia. And yet, Anh overcomes many of the obstacles that he and his family…

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Family and Community

While Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee is a memoir about his life, it is really also the story of a larger group—a family and a community. In telling the story of his family’s flight from Vietnam shortly after the end of the Vietnam War, Anh makes it clear that that the success and prosperity he found in Australia, his adoptive country, was largely due to a collective effort—the sacrifices that many around him, especially…

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Betrayal and Forgiveness

Anh Do’s memoir The Happiest Refugee isn’t just a story about a family’s perilous journey from Vietnam to Australia. It’s also a story about betrayal and forgiveness. In recounting how he was betrayed by his father Tam, who abandoned the family shortly after their arrival in Australia, Anh Do traces his own journey of accepting and reconnecting with the man who had been his role model as a child. Ultimately, Do suggests that…

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