The Refugees


Viet Thanh Nguyen

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Refugees can help.

Martín Arellano Character Analysis

Arthur’s younger brother in “The Transplant.” Arthur and Martín have a difficult relationship, because their father had left the family landscaping business, Arellano & Sons, only to Martín when he realized that Arthur is irresponsible with money. Arthur works under Martín at the business, and his younger brother serves as a constant reminder of the life that he might have had were it not for his gambling addiction.

Martín Arellano Quotes in The Refugees

The The Refugees quotes below are all either spoken by Martín Arellano or refer to Martín Arellano. 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:
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of The Refugees published in 2017.
The Transplant Quotes

Arthur, hovering in the corner, sensed that he was merely a specter, already dead, acknowledged by Norma only as she brushed by him on her way out the door, saying over her shoulder, “Don’t forget your pills.”

Related Characters: Norma (speaker), Arthur Arellano, Martín Arellano
Related Symbols: Liver
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

“You’re my friend,” Louis replied.

Arthur interpreted the statement to mean that he was Louis’s only friend, for Louis never mentioned anyone else. “You’re my friend, too,” Arthur said, putting as much feeling as he could into his words. For a moment, the two of them maintained eye contact and smiled at each other.

Related Characters: Arthur Arellano (speaker), Louis Vu (speaker), Norma, Martín Arellano
Related Symbols: Liver
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Refugees LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Refugees PDF

Martín Arellano Character Timeline in The Refugees

The timeline below shows where the character Martín Arellano appears in The Refugees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Transplant
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon live with one of their daughters, and Arthur had moved into his younger brother Martín’s house. Shortly after this separation, he learned of his diagnosis. (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
...organ (choosing to keep the donor anonymous) and returns to work as an accountant for Martín at the landscaping service founded by Arthur’s father. (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
One day, however, a letter arrives at the home Arthur and Norma are renting from Martín. In it, a computer error at the hospital reveals the name of Arthur’s donor: Men... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
The next day, Arthur calls Martín, hoping to ask for refuge. But when he hears his brother’s disapproving tone, Arthur says... (full context)
Cultural Identity and Family Theme Icon
That morning, at the office, Arthur realizes that he was correct in not asking Martín for help. Arthur has barely started his morning game of blackjack on the computer when... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Martín asks how Arthur and Norma are doing, explaining that he had heard through the grapevine... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Before meeting Louis, Arthur thought that his organ donor might have been like him and Martín: middle aged and of Mexican ancestry. Arthur wonders if Martín would have given Arthur an... (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
...but Louis says that if Arthur does that, Louis will report the undocumented workers at Martín’s business. It would lead to arrests and deportations, and their father’s business would be disgraced.... (full context)