The Refugees


Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Lingerie Symbol Analysis

Lingerie Symbol Icon

In “Fatherland,” lingerie comes to stand in for American culture and Phuong’s desire for adventure. She receives the lingerie from Vivien, who encourages her to meet boys and to do what she wants—that she doesn’t need to be as conservative as her parents are.  This creates a sense of intimacy and trust between them, but it also spurs Phuong’s ambition. She wears the lingerie when the family visits an amusement park, and when she asks Vivien if she would sponsor her to come to America, driving home the connection between the lingerie and Phuong’s realization that she can rebel against both her culture and her family and yearn for something more.

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Lingerie Symbol Timeline in The Refugees

The timeline below shows where the symbol Lingerie appears in The Refugees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Cultural Identity and Family Theme Icon
Intimacy and Isolation Theme Icon
...Phuong shares with her parents. Vivien takes out a gift from her suitcase: lacy black lingerie. Phuong blushes and protests that her parents would never let her wear them, but she... (full context)
Cultural Identity and Family Theme Icon
Phuong, who is still wearing the lingerie from the previous evening, tells Vivien that she hasn’t had a boyfriend because doesn’t want... (full context)