The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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The Congressman Character Analysis

A Republican man in his forties who represents a district in Orange County. The narrator first meets him at the wedding between a marine colonel’s daughter and the son of the vice president of the Saigon branch of Bank of America. He served as a Green Beret from 1962 to 1964. He is nicknamed “Napalm Ned,” “Knock-‘em-Dead Ned,” and “Nuke-‘em-All Ned.” He is a man of large stature who lived for two years in the Highlands in Vietnam, fighting with the South Vietnamese Army. He also seems to speak perfect Vietnamese. He is fervently anti-Communist and this is one of the reasons why he is so welcoming to the South Vietnamese refugees. The Congressman exhibits the aggressiveness of a lawyer and the smoothness of a politician. He lives in Huntington Beach with his wife, Rita, and has a district office in a strip mall in Huntington Beach. Contrary to the bombast he exhibits onstage, he is soft-spoken in private. One of his legislative priorities is regulation of movies and music. The Auteur first consults with him about The Hamlet until the Congressman recommends the narrator as a script consultant.

The Congressman Quotes in The Sympathizer

The The Sympathizer quotes below are all either spoken by The Congressman or refer to The Congressman. 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 15 Quotes

As a nonwhite person, the General, like myself, knew he must be patient with white people, who were easily scared by the nonwhite. Even with liberal white people, one could go only so far, and with average white people one could barely go anywhere. The General was deeply familiar with the nature, nuances, and internal differences of white people, as was every nonwhite person who had lived here a good number of years. We ate their food, we watched their movies, we observed their lives and psyche via television and in everyday contact, we learned their language, we absorbed their subtle cues, we laughed at their jokes, even when made at our expense, we humbly accepted their condescension, we eavesdropped on their conversations in supermarkets and the dentist's office, and we protected them by not speaking our own language in their presence, which unnerved them.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The General, The Congressman, Dr. Richard Hedd
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Congressman Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character The Congressman appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...dance. When the song is over, the bank vice president takes the stage and introduces the Congressman . The politician delivers a rousing speech about how the refugees represent the promise of... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...makes it easier for Americans to trust them. Sonny asks him what he thinks of the Congressman . The narrator says that the politician is the best thing that could’ve happened to... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
...next weekend, the narrator chauffeurs the General and Madame from Hollywood to Huntington Beach, where the Congressman lives. He has invited them to lunch. During the hour-long drive, they talk mostly about... (full context)
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
At lunch, the conversation turns back to Lana. Rita, the Congressman ’s wife, sympathizes. She has strict rules for her own children. The Congressman mentions that... (full context)
Chapter 8
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
The General insists that the war isn’t dead, and that Claude and the Congressman are among many allies. The General has a list of officers who want to fight.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
The narrator and the General visit the Congressman ’s district office at a strip mall in Huntington Beach to talk about the new... (full context)
Chapter 12
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...helping the General with planning and logistics, as well as fund-raising and diplomacy. He’s notified the Congressman that the community is gathering funds to send a team to aid the refugees in... (full context)
Chapter 15
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
The narrator drives the General to a country club in Anaheim where the Congressman has invited them. On first sight, it doesn’t look like much. The golfing green is... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
The General intervenes and says that “happiness is not guaranteed,” but “freedom is.” The Congressman raises his glass to the comment. The General knows how to read a crowd. The... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Over a baked Alaska, the Congressman states his reason for calling the assembly. The General has come to talk about the... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
When the Congressman asks the narrator what he thinks, he says that he disagrees with Dr. Hedd. Life... (full context)