The Refugees

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Thomas Character Analysis

the narrator of “Someone Else Besides You.” Thomas and his ex-wife, Sam, had gotten divorced because Sam had wanted a child and Thomas was unsure of whether he could be a good father. His own father, Mr. P., had been very tough on his children growing up and Thomas worries about turning out like him. Yet after Thomas has lost Sam, he spends a majority of the story trying to combat his resulting isolation. When Thomas’s mother died shortly after his divorce, he had asked his father if he wanted to move in with him, which his father had agreed to. Thomas also calls Sam many times a day in order to hear her voice. Mr. P. realizes what Thomas doesn’t seem to see: that Sam made Thomas a whole man. Mr. P. devises a plot to try to win Sam back, but when they see that she is pregnant, Thomas is shocked. Seeing her, he realizes what he had lost and is haunted by the child and the future that he might have had with Sam. This spurs him to tell her that he wants to be the father of her child, revealing his desire to regain that intimacy with her.

Thomas Quotes in The Refugees

The The Refugees quotes below are all either spoken by Thomas or refer to Thomas. 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

Thomas Character Timeline in The Refugees

The timeline below shows where the character Thomas appears in The Refugees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Someone Else Besides You
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Thomas and his father (Mr. P.) drop by his father’s girlfriend Mimi’s condo. Thomas has never... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Thomas goes to the bathroom (although saying he had to use the bathroom was just an... (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
Thomas explains that he is 33, but that Mr. P. didn’t think anyone was a man... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Mr. P. walks Thomas to the door and says he’ll need a ride home the next morning, and then... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
The next morning, while Thomas processes refunds and listens to his service representatives, Thomas pictures Mimi and Mr. P. lounging... (full context)
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... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas says that the job is perfect, because after Sam left him and Thomas’s mother had... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...but her patience ran out the previous year when she turned thirty-four. She had told Thomas she wanted a child, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to be a... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas’s shift ends at dawn, and he returns to the apartment into which he’d moved after... (full context)
Cultural Identity and Family Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas sleeps for two hours, and then drives back to Mimi’s apartment. Mr. P. is showering,... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Mr. P. appears and he and Thomas leave soon after. In the car, Thomas’s father asks when the last time Thomas spoke... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas questions Mr. P., asking if he’s going to marry Mimi and then find another woman... (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... (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
Thomas doesn’t know what “doing something” means; only that Mr. P. usually said it when he... (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Mr. P. had taken Thomas to the boy’s home and knocked on the door. He spoke with the other boy’s... (full context)
Cultural Identity and Family Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas and Mr. P. go to pick up a rental car, then to a barbershop, where... (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 just taking a drive and thought they’d stop by. She is skeptical,... (full context)
War and the Refugee Experience Theme Icon
...Sam on the house, but she says that most of the decorations are her roommate’s. Thomas’s father points to a pipe on top of the TV and asks where she bought... (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 life together.... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas leaves and gets in the car with Mr. P. As they pull out of the... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
As they argue and drive away, Mr. P. claims that Thomas wouldn’t know right from wrong because he never makes any choices. Thomas questions if it... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...P. takes a pill, thinking he might have pulled a muscle in his neck, and Thomas gives him a massage. After he falls asleep, Thomas hangs his shirt in his closet... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...missing car. His father goes with Mimi to retrieve it from the impound lot while Thomas sleeps between shifts. When they return, his father goes to clean the car, leaving Thomas... (full context)
Memory and Ghosts Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Mimi starts to chat with Thomas, but he’s in a dull mood. He asks her, “You know he’s going to cheat... (full context)
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas goes to work, changes his clothes, goes to his second job. Near dawn of the... (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 also thought... (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 doing. He... (full context)