The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer


Viet Thanh Nguyen

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Sympathizer can help.
Current Battle Ends 2/28
We'll make guides for February's winners by March 31st—guaranteed.
Current Battle Ends on 2/28/2021
Time Remaining

The Affectless Lieutenant Character Analysis

The leader of the three marines. The narrator remembers the group from a haphazard meeting, along with Bon and Man, in an alley in Saigon some years ago. The three marines were drunk, and the narrator pulled a pistol on the affectless lieutenant for being disrespectful. The affectless lieutenant has lived in the Mekong Delta for his entire life. He has dark skin, but he is more distinguishable from the other two marines, who are darker. He and the narrator are reunited to fight the General’s guerrilla war. While returning to his camp site after a bathroom break, he loses his leg during an explosion, and dies from the injury.
Get the entire The Sympathizer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Sympathizer PDF

The Affectless Lieutenant Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character The Affectless Lieutenant appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 18
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...spend two weeks getting used to the weather and their new comrades—three bearded, long-haired marine lieutenants, the same ones they ran into in an alley in Saigon. The narrator remembers the... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
...forbidden to him, not even what belonged to or came from the General. The affectless lieutenant gets up to pee. Bon asks if the narrator is okay and he nods. The... (full context)
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
Someone turns on a flashlight and they see that the affectless lieutenant’s leg is missing. Another person puts a hand over his mouth to muffle his screams.... (full context)
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The soldiers end their forward march after two hours. They lower the affectless lieutenant’s body into a grave. As the narrator kneels by the grave, he sees Sonny’s ghost... (full context)