In “Fatherland,” photos become symbols of Mr. Ly’s love for Vivien, as well as Phuong’s tie to her sister. Before Vivien arrives in Vietnam, the only connection that Phuong has to her sister is through photos that Vivien’s mother sends to the family. Phuong views Vivien as a better version of herself and is haunted by the fact that Vivien is living the life that she might have had in America. When Vivien comes to visit the family in Vietnam, they also take many pictures of her trip, which Mr. Ly asks Phuong to have laminated so they can preserve their memories of her. When it becomes clear to Phuong in the photos that Mr. Ly loves her sister much more than he loves her, she burns the photos. This gesture represents Phuong’s refusal to allow her sister to haunt her after she leaves. She burns the photos so that she can make a new life, undefined by the life of her sister.
Photos Quotes in The Refugees
In the Ice Lantern’s glow, her sister’s face looked more like her father’s than her own, the symmetry rendering clear what Phuong could now say. Their father loved Vivien more than her.
The photograph ignited easily when Phuong lit it with a match.