While waiting for the planes, the narrator talks to a trio of call girls named Mimi, Phi Phi, and Ti Ti. His status as a bachelor makes this permissible, and their company makes the time go by quickly. The narrator can’t sleep, so he takes a walk around the compound. He passes by the swimming pool, an American-only area that the “whites of other countries”—Indonesians, Iranians, Hungarians, and Poles in the International Committee of Control and Supervision (ICCS)—were allowed to use. Now, the evacuees are using the pool as a urinal, due to the bathrooms having been overrun with waste.
Both the prostitutes and the segregated swimming pool are examples of American hypocrisy. The nation, which promised the Vietnamese freedom, also perpetuated forms of oppression. The call girls, who were poor, have used the American presence to their advantage. Nguyen portrays them as women who have learned the lessons of Western capitalism. By urinating in the pool, the refugees exact a form of revenge for their exclusion.
At 4:00 AM, the narrator boards a “fetid and hot” bus that will take them to the parked C-130 Hercules plane, which looks like a garbage truck with wings attached. Everyone is prepared to say goodbye to Vietnam until an explosion occurs. The General tumbles into the narrator and, as a result of the impact, the narrator falls into the bulkhead, then onto screaming bodies. He fears being burned to death or chopped up by a propeller. Another explosion on the runway heightens the panic. The loadmaster lowers the ramp and refugees surge toward the opening. The narrator covers his head with his rucksack to avoid being trampled. Another rocket explodes on the runway a few meters behind the passengers. The plane’s starboard engines are on fire. The narrator is on his hands and knees when Bon seizes his elbow, dragging him with one hand, while holding Linh with the other. Linh carries Duc, who’s screaming.
The refugees’ near-death experience at the airport threatens them with the possibility of there being no escape but death from Vietnam. Bon’s exhibition of his scar from his blood oath seems to foreshadow this event, which appears to be the nation’s demand that its people remain loyal, either by staying and fighting or by dying on its soil. Bon’s loyalty to both the narrator and to his family is evident when he seizes the hands of both to rescue them. The narrator is both Bon’s blood brother and his comrade-in-arms. Though Bon is leaving Vietnam for his family’s safety, he has not abandoned his loyalties as a soldier.
Bon thinks that soldiers in the South Vietnamese Army are retaliating for not getting a seat out on a plane. The narrator insists that they’re being attacked by the North Vietnamese. Then, the plane’s gas tanks blow up. The fireball illuminates a large stretch of the airfield. Another C-130 lands with a screech on a distant runway. The plane turns in the direction of the refugees and they cheer, hopeful of being rescued. The narrator pokes his head over the divider and sees hundreds of military staff, soldiers, and military cops going toward the plane. The evacuees run toward the plane. The General runs ahead of the narrator, and Bon and his family run behind the narrator.
Bon suspects that his former comrades are exacting revenge against authorities, like the General, who are leaving them behind to fend for themselves against the Communists—an effort that will probably result in their deaths. The new plane, originally intended for American military staff, is overtaken by the refugees. This act suggests that the refugees feel that they have a greater right to take their places on the plane, given that it was the Americans who helped to cause the collapse of their nation.
The General sets foot on the ramp. The narrator pauses to let Linh and Duc pass. When he turns, he sees that they’re no longer behind him. The loadmaster shouts for the narrator to get on the plane and tells him that his friends are gone. Twenty meters away, Bon is kneeling and clutching Linh to his chest. A circle of blood expands on her white blouse. The narrator tosses his rucksack toward the loadmaster and runs toward Bon and his family. He slides for the last two meters, losing the skin off of his left hand and elbow. When he reaches Bon, he sees that between him and Linh is Duc’s mangled body—both Duc and Linh are dead. The General and the loadmaster yell that it’s time to go. The narrator pulls at Bon’s sleeve to get him to come along. The narrator then punches him in the jaw so that he’ll stop bellowing in pain and loosen his grip from his wife and son.
Duc and Linh have been killed. This leaves Bon with no sense of purpose. Having given up his weapon, he’s no longer a soldier. Having lost his family, he’s no longer a husband or a father. His only remaining identifiable connection is to the narrator. The circle of blood that expands on Linh’s chest comes from her being pierced in the heart. The wound is also symbolic of Bon’s heartbreak, and the bond that existed between Bon, Linh, Duc, and the narrator just moments ago, but which has now been broken.
The narrator throws Linh over his shoulder. He then throws her at the General when he reaches the ramp, and the General catches her. Bon is running alongside the narrator, holding Duc. The narrator shoves Bon toward the ramp and the loadmaster seizes him by the collar. The narrator leaps for the ramp with his arms extended and lands on one side of his face. As the plane moves down the runway, the General lifts the narrator to his knees and drags him into the hold, while the ramp rises behind him. As the airplane ascends, the terrible noise of the engines blends with the sounds of Bon pounding his head against the ramp, howling.
The narrator takes Linh and Duc along with them so that their bodies will be given a proper burial. The images of the ramp closing and the General lifting the narrator to his knees are more reminiscent of a mothership taking the narrator home than a cargo plane taking them to a new land. The sound of the engine signals their anticipation to leave Vietnam, while the sound of Bon’s pounding is a reminder of futility and frustration in the face of so much meaningless violence.