The Refugees

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Sam Character Analysis

Thomas’s ex-wife in “Someone Else Besides You.” Sam is a high school geometry teacher and is both kind and patient. She had waited many years to have a child with Thomas, who was always unsure as to whether he would make a good father. When Sam turned thirty-four, she had gotten tired of waiting, and after the two had gotten a divorce, Sam decides to have a child on her own. When Thomas sees Sam pregnant, he regrets the opportunity he lost with her and works to try and win her back. By the end of the story, he tells her that he wants to be the father of her child.

Sam Quotes in The Refugees

The The Refugees quotes below are all either spoken by Sam or refer to Sam. 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.
Someone Else Besides You Quotes

“Who says I want her back?”

“Don’t be an idiot. You were only half a man before you met her, and you’re back to being half a man now.”

Related Characters: Thomas (speaker), Mr. P. (speaker), Sam, Mimi
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

When I spoke, it was so softly that only the stranger curled up behind the belly ring could hear. Then I said it once more, louder: “I can be the father.” Feeling Sam’s hand grip my shoulder, I said it a third time, just to make sure they both heard me right.

Related Characters: Thomas (speaker), Mr. P., Sam
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Refugees LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Refugees PDF

Sam Character Timeline in The Refugees

The timeline below shows where the character Sam appears in The Refugees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Someone Else Besides You
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
During Thomas’s lunch break, he calls his ex-wife Sam’s home number just to listen to her answering machine. Sam is a tenth-grade geometry teacher,... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas says that the job is perfect, because after Sam left him and Thomas’s mother had died, he could no longer sleep. He mostly sits... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Sam is patient, but her patience ran out the previous year when she turned thirty-four. She... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...soon after. In the car, Thomas’s father asks when the last time Thomas spoke with Sam was. Thomas responds that they spoke after his mother died. His father asks how he... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Mr. P. says that Thomas should never have let Sam go. Thomas starts to cry. He remembers that he had not cried during Thomas’s mother’s... (full context)
Cultural Identity and Family Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...a barbershop, where Thomas gets a very short haircut. Thomas’s father then takes him to Sam’s doorstep. As he knocks on the door, Thomas says that this is a mistake. His... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Sam is surprised to see them, and says they should have called. Thomas says they were... (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
Mr. P. compliments Sam on the house, but she says that most of the decorations are her roommate’s. Thomas’s... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
When Sam leaves, Thomas looks for traces of a man, but can only find mementos from their... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...the car with Mr. P. As they pull out of the street, Thomas’s father sees Sam’s car and tells him to stop. He gets out of the car and slashes all... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...have married other people, even though he would not have been born. He wonders if Sam had realized this before he did, and that’s why she divorced him. (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...next day, he falls into bed until he hears a knock on the front door: Sam. She asks how he could have slashed her tires. Thomas retrieves an envelope full of... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Sam tells Thomas that when she saw the tires, she wanted to kill him—but that she... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Sam tells Thomas to stand up and asks if he knows what he’s saying—or what he’s... (full context)