The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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The Auteur Character Analysis

The director of The Hamlet. He’s an Oscar-winner with a home in the Hollywood Hills. His personal assistant is a woman named Violet. The narrator notices that he has hair along his forearms and inside the collar of his shirt, a sign of masculinity that reminds the narrator of his own relative hairlessness. The Auteur’s last two films, beginning with a picture called Hard Knock, have made him the hottest writer-director in town—the critically-acclaimed film about a Greek American youth growing up during the Detroit riots was “loosely autobiographical.” His other film, Venice Beach, was about the failure of the American Dream for a married couple writing “competing versions of the Great American novel.” Like Violet, he speaks in short, brusque fragments.

The Auteur Quotes in The Sympathizer

The The Sympathizer quotes below are all either spoken by The Auteur or refer to The Auteur. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of The Sympathizer published in 2016.
Chapter 8 Quotes

I had failed and the Auteur would make The Hamlet as he intended with my countrymen serving merely as raw material for an epic about white men saving good yellow people from bad yellow people. I pitied the French for their naiveté in believing they had to visit a country in order to exploit it. Hollywood was much more efficient, imagining the countries it wanted to exploit. I was maddened by my helplessness before the Auteur's imagination and machinations. His arrogance marked something new in the world, for this was the first war where the losers would write history instead of the victors, courtesy of the most efficient propaganda machine ever created […] In this forthcoming Hollywood trompe l’oeil, all the Vietnamese of any side would come out poorly, herded into the roles of the poor, the innocent, the evil, or the corrupt. Our fate was not to be merely mute; we were to be struck dumb.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The General, Madame, The Auteur, Violet
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

It mattered not what story these audiences watched. The point was that it was the American story they watched and loved, up until the day that they themselves might be bombed by the planes they had seen in American movies [….] Perhaps the Movie itself was not terribly important, but what it represented, the genus of the American movie, was. An audience member might love or hate this Movie, or dismiss it as only a story, but those emotions were irrelevant. What mattered was that the audience member, having paid for the ticket, was willing to let American ideas and values seep into the vulnerable tissue of his brain and the absorbent soil of his heart.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Man / The Commissar , The Auteur
Page Number: 172-173
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Auteur Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character The Auteur appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...never bothering to say hello or goodbye. She’s equally ill-mannered when the narrator visits the Auteur’s Hollywood Hills home. The narrator wonders if “her abruptness” is part of her personality or... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
The narrator is a fan of the Auteur’s work, but he’s “flummoxed” by having read a screenplay in which not a single Vietnamese... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
The narrator notes that the Auteur didn’t get the details about the Vietnamese right in the script. The Auteur notes how... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
After the narrator leaves the Auteur’s home in the hills, he goes to the General’s house, thirty blocks away and down... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Back at the General’s house, Madame asks the narrator why the Auteur was so rude. The narrator figures that the director was just looking for a yes... (full context)
Chapter 9
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...after their meeting, though he doesn’t wish to speak to her. She says that the Auteur has reconsidered his advice and respects the narrator for standing up to him. She says... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
The Auteur offers the narrator four months of paid work in the Philippines and six months of... (full context)
Chapter 10
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
The narrator’s notes to the Auteur allow for some change in how the Vietnamese will be represented in the film. The... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
...includes “glazed Polaroids” of himself with them and another that he took “with the reluctant Auteur.” He also sends Polaroids of the refugee camp and its inhabitants, as well as newspaper... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...simulate the torture of Binh and the rape of Mai. The narrator’s relationship with the Auteur unravels when he asks the director if the rape is necessary. The director insists that... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
The narrator is stunned by the Auteur’s “unprovoked attack.” When the narrator denies being a sellout, the Auteur snorts and says that... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
The Auteur and the narrator are no longer on speaking terms. He explains Binh’s torture scene to... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...end of the scene, the set is silent. Everyone is stunned by the performance. The Auteur towels him off and says, “That was amazing, Jimmy, absolutely amazing.” Then, he asks him... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
In the end, the Auteur asks for six takes. At noon, he asks Yoon if he wants to break for... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...narrator looks at him and thinks of the communist agent. For the next scene, the Auteur requires several takes. It’s the last one in the movie for Yoon. Unable to get... (full context)
Chapter 11
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...a technical consultant on an artistic project but an infiltrator into a propagandistic work. The Auteur will regard his work as art, but that’s foolish. Movies are “America’s way of softening... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The Auteur insists that, long after the Vietnam War is forgotten, this work of art “will not... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...the narrator’s people comes from the military-industrial complex of which Hollywood is a part. The Auteur decides to improvise with “the plentiful quantities of leftover gasoline and explosives.” The special effects... (full context)
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...the “torturers,” the tall sergeant, says that the gifts aren’t from them but from the Auteur. (full context)
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...rumor that the incident wasn’t an accident. He and the other extras think that the Auteur did it in retaliation for the narrator insulting him. They say that they wouldn’t “put... (full context)
Chapter 12
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...white,” though he could speak perfectly fine. Violet eyed him suspiciously. She said that the Auteur would’ve come, but he was meeting with President Marcos that day. The mention of the... (full context)
Chapter 16
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
...to one of the grand homes on a hill, one of which belongs to the Auteur. He confesses to her about having wanted to kill the director. She shrugs and says... (full context)
Chapter 17
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...to appear in the credits, but he never sees it. His “grudging acknowledgement” of the Auteur is replaced by “boiling murderous rage.” (full context)