The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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The Baby-faced Guard Character Analysis

A young guard at the prison in North Vietnam who peers through the slot in the narrator’s iron door to mock and degrade him. He has a tattoo on his biceps written in blue ink that reads “Born in the North to Die in the South.” The narrator describes him as having “a gamy smell.”

The Baby-faced Guard Quotes in The Sympathizer

The The Sympathizer quotes below are all either spoken by The Baby-faced Guard or refer to The Baby-faced Guard. 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 20 Quotes

We're revolutionaries, my friend. Suffering made us. Suffering for the people is what we chose because we sympathized so much with their suffering […] Only without the comfort of sleep will you fully understand the horrors of history. I tell you this as someone who has slept very little since what has happened to me. Believe me when I say that I know how you feel, and that this has to be done.

Page Number: 337
Explanation and Analysis:

Somebody must have something done to him! Was I that somebody? No! That cannot be true, or so I wanted to tell him, but my tongue refused to obey me. I was only mistaken to be that somebody, because I was, I told him, or thought I did, a nobody. I am a lie, a keeper, a book. No! I am a fly, a creeper, a gook.

No! I am—I am—I am—

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Man / The Commissar , The Baby-faced Guard
Related Symbols: The Pickled Baby
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Baby-faced Guard Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character The Baby-faced Guard appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Back at the detention center, the baby-faced guard who checks in on the narrator often calls him “bastard.” The name hurts the narrator,... (full context)
Chapter 19
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...toward the Commissar’s quarters and stop at some stairs leading up to his balcony, where the baby-faced guard and three other guards await them. The Commandant tells the narrator that the Commissar is... (full context)
Chapter 20
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...the narrator can say a word, the guards seize him, gag him, and blindfold him. The baby-faced guard orders someone to open a door. The narrator is then pushed into “a confined, echoing... (full context)
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...but he doesn’t want to be somebody, he wants to be regarded as “a nobody.” The baby-faced guard nudges the narrator again, keeping him from sleep, reminding the narrator that he’s not his... (full context)
Chapter 21
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
...light emanates from hundreds of lightbulbs planted in the ceiling. The room is painted white. The baby-faced guard stands in a yellow uniform in the corner. The others are dressed in white lab... (full context)
Chapter 23
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...you?” The narrator knew—it was all a joke. He began to laugh so hard that the baby-faced guard and the Commandant came to investigate the noise. When the Commandant asks what’s so funny,... (full context)