Back at the detention center, the baby-faced guard who checks in on the narrator often calls him “bastard.” The name hurts the narrator, who expected better from the Commandant’s men. Incidentally, one of the things that initially drew the narrator to the General was the fact that the elder officer never brought up his “muddled heritage.” All he was interested in was the narrator’s efficiency at his job and his willingness to do things that “may not be so good.” One of those things was securing the evacuation of those who were chosen to flee Vietnam, using $10,000 to bribe officials for visas, passports, and seats on evacuation planes.
The time frame briefly shifts back to the narrative present again, connected by the word “bastard.” Later, the narrator will be betrayed by the General, who will use his biracial identity as a reason to condemn the narrator’s relationship with the General’s daughter, Lana. The narrator finds that both the North and the South Vietnamese—a divided people—condemn the narrator for what they perceive as his racial division. People from both sides come to believe that his identity makes him inherently unworthy of full social membership.
Everyone selected for departure, including Bon and his family, meet outside of the General’s villa to board two blue buses. The General’s final duty is to say goodbye to his staff, some of whom ask to come along, though Madame refuses. Instead, she gives each staff member “an envelope of dollars” with “its thickness appropriate to his or her rank.” The General, Madame, Bon and his family, and the narrator board one of the buses. The narrator waves goodbye to the staff as the buses make their way to the airport.
Madame gives her staff members money as a consolation, though the cash will be useless when the new regime takes over. Instead of staying behind with their staff in a demonstration of loyalty, the General and Madame use their money and social prestige to save themselves. It is practical, but also proof of the classism that the Communists sought to eradicate.
In a letter, the narrator tells Man about the General’s evacuation plan. Man responds by writing that the narrator’s next mission is to go to the U.S. and act as a spy. Once settled there, he’ll send letters to Man’s Parisian aunt, reporting on what he learns. He says that the narrator will do more good in America than in Vietnam. The narrator is excited to go to the U.S. He confesses that he feels out of place in Vietnam, which is different from his awareness of not belonging to America.
The narrator is of French and Vietnamese descent but seems to feel most at home in the United States. He doesn’t belong to America, though he knows a great deal about its culture and attended school there. In the U.S., the narrator at least has the benefit of creating his identity without the burden of history.
When the convoy of refugees, led by the General, reaches the airport, they see “a squad of sullen military [cops] and their young lieutenant.” The lieutenant approaches the General’s car, leans down by the driver’s window, and exchanges a few words with him. The lieutenant glances in the narrator’s direction, where he leans out the door of the bus. The week before, the narrator had visited the lieutenant’s tin-roofed shack, which he shared with his large family, to bribe him with five thousand dollars to allow the General and the others in the convoy to escape. Half was paid at the lieutenant’s home; the other half would be paid at the airport. When the narrator’s bus rolls by, the lieutenant snatches the money from the narrator’s outstretched hands.
The young lieutenant is a poor man with a large family. Though his sense of honor disagrees with accepting the bribe, he also needs the money to take care of himself and his family. The narrator admires the lieutenant’s moral righteousness, but his cynicism also convinces him that he can get the lieutenant to put aside those values in exchange for cash. The desperation of life in Vietnam, which was difficult even before the fall of Saigon, forces people to choose between their morality and their survival.
The evacuees line up, though queueing is “unnatural” to them. When the marines check them for weapons, the narrator and Bon hand over their firearms. Next, entry papers are handed out by a young embassy bureaucrat. The narrator bought their documents from the Ministry of the Interior. The narrator takes his place in bleacher seats, along with the other evacuees who await planes, next to Bon and his family. Bon points to a scar in the palm of the hand that is now holding a cigarette and asks the narrator if he remembers the blood oath. The narrator holds up the palm of his right hand with its matching scar and listens to rocket fire in the distance.
The handing over of their firearms is symbolic. It indicates the men’s transition from soldiers to civilians. Seated in the bleacher seats at the airport, they seem now like spectators of the collapse of their country. No longer in the military and finding themselves refugees, their only connection is that which they have to each other and to Man. However, this “blood link” is complicated by the narrator’s secret support of the North Vietnamese, whose rocket fire is in the distance.