The General’s most trusted friend and a friend and mentor to the narrator, though Claude is unaware of the narrator’s Communist sympathies. Claude reveals to the narrator that he is one-sixteenth black. They meet when Claude finds the nineteen-year-old narrator on a refugee barge in 1954. Claude presented himself as someone working for refugee relief. He is actually in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which, in the 1950s, was called the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Currently, his cover is working in the American embassy to promote the development of tourism in Vietnam. He trained the narrator in interrogation tactics and worked with him at the National Interrogation Center in Saigon. Claude speaks poor Vietnamese and worse French, though he speaks excellent English. He is six-two and has perfect vision. He keeps in shape by doing two hundred push-ups each morning with his houseboy squatting on his back. He’s an avid reader, particularly of the work of the English scholar, Dr. Richard Hedd. In Vietnam, he had a girlfriend named Kim, who he had to leave behind after the fall of Saigon. When the narrator sees Claude again in Los Angeles at Professor Hammer’s home, he looks the same, aside from gaining a few pounds.
Claude Character Timeline in The Sympathizer
The timeline below shows where the character Claude appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...General’s liquor store on the unfashionable eastern end of Hollywood Boulevard. Bon tells him that Claude is in the storeroom in the back with the General. When the narrator enters, Claude... (full context)
...it’s the best undergraduate thesis he’s ever read. The narrator smiles demurely and says thanks. Claude snorts, saying that he never cared for the book. He finds the Vietnamese girl in... (full context)
...The point of writing this part of the confession to the Commandant is to prove Claude’s point that the crapulent major, too, was sinful. The Vietnamese regard extortion as an average... (full context)
...him and Binh. They castrate Attucks and stuff his genitals into his mouth. According to Claude, this was something that some Native American tribes did to “trespassing white settlers.” Claude finds... (full context)
...much worse; the narrator agrees. While training for the secret police, the narrator learned from Claude that brute force only gets an interrogator bad answers. Yoon asks for some water and... (full context)
...success in getting money from a handful of organizations to which he’s been introduced through Claude, as well as his own contacts among Americans who’ve visited Vietnam or done tours of... (full context)