The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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She is Man’s aunt and a Communist sympathizer to whom the narrator relays letters written in invisible ink. She is a Trotskyist and an anti-colonialist who once worked as a nurse. Man’s great-uncle fell in love with her, and she persuaded him to join the French Communists. Together, they remained in France and had a daughter. She lives in the thirteenth arrondissement, or district, of Paris. She has never officially joined the Communist Party and is, therefore, unlikely to be surveilled. She is a seamstress with three Siamese cats and no suspicious links. Man mentions that she has “no children,” which could mean that her daughter is no longer living. Very often, the narrator refers to her as “my Parisian aunt.”

The Parisian Aunt Quotes in The Sympathizer

The The Sympathizer quotes below are all either spoken by The Parisian Aunt or refer to The Parisian Aunt. 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 4 Quotes

But out of deference to our hosts we kept our feelings to ourselves, sitting close to one another on prickly sofas and scratchy carpets, our knees touching under crowded kitchen tables on which sat crenellated ashtrays measuring time’s passage with the accumulation of ashes, chewing on dried squid and the cud of remembrance until our jaws ached, trading stories heard second- and thirdhand about our scattered countrymen. This was the way we learned of the clan turned into slave labor by a farmer in Modesto, and the naive girl who flew to Spokane to marry her GI sweetheart and was sold to a brothel, and the widower with nine children who went out into a Minnesotan winter and lay down in the snow on his back with mouth open until he was buried and frozen and the ex-Ranger who bought a gun and dispatched his wife and two children before killing himself in Cleveland […] and the spoiled girl seduced by heroin who disappeared into the Baltimore streets […]

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Man / The Commissar , The Parisian Aunt
Page Number: 70-71
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

That very night, we snuck out of our dormitory and made our way to a tamarind grove, and under its boughs we cut our palms. We mingled our blood once more with boys we recognized as more kin to us than any real kin, and then gave one another our word.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Bon, Man / The Commissar , The Parisian Aunt
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Parisian Aunt Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character The Parisian Aunt 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
...the U.S. and act as a spy. Once settled there, he’ll send letters to Man’s Parisian aunt , reporting on what he learns. He says that the narrator will do more good... (full context)
Chapter 4
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...it is from here that the narrator writes the first of his letters to Man’s aunt in Paris . He composes his letters as though he’s writing to Man directly. He talks about... (full context)
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...the narrator’s supposed instinct. The narrator returns to his barracks and reports the conversation to the Parisian aunt , leaving out the part about his nervousness. (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
The night, the narrator reads a letter from the Parisian aunt . Man tells him that the rebuilding of Vietnam is progressing slowly but surely and... (full context)
Chapter 6
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...refugee camps on Guam. He mingles with “these vanquished soldiers” and reports their gossip to the Parisian aunt . They all have humble jobs now—managing a pizza parlor, working as janitors, short-order cooks,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
...shoot goes over schedule or if the local rebels become “too overconfident.” The narrator tells the Parisian aunt about his decision to accept the Auteur’s offer, a job that will be a chance... (full context)
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The narrator also tells the Parisian aunt about his agreement to help the General create a nonprofit charitable organization called the Benevolent... (full context)
Chapter 10
Asian Identity in the United States Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
...so they’ll be represented by other Asians. The narrator reports on the cast to his Parisian aunt . He includes “glazed Polaroids” of himself with them and another that he took “with... (full context)
Chapter 12
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...him at the airport. Back at their apartment, the narrator has another letter from his Parisian aunt . He reads it when Bon goes to sleep, then he writes his response. He... (full context)
Chapter 13
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The narrator reports in his next letter to the Parisian aunt that the General is carrying out training and maneuvers for his nascent army in the... (full context)
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...as a foot soldier but as a documentarian who photographs the soldiers. The narrator sends the Parisian aunt photos of the men in uniform, along with others showing the soldiers exercising and engaging... (full context)
Chapter 14
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The narrator sends all of this information to his Parisian aunt via a courier. In his latest message, he gives the details of Bon’s itinerary. The... (full context)
Chapter 15
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
...General knows how to read a crowd. The narrator has already reported to Man, through the Parisian aunt , about his fund-raising success in getting money from a handful of organizations to which... (full context)
Chapter 16
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...to Vietnam. The narrator doesn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, he’s received a letter from the Parisian aunt in which Man has written that he is not to return; they need the narrator... (full context)
Chapter 17
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...day, he and Bon are set to leave for Thailand. In a message to his Parisian aunt for Man, he acknowledges that he’s disobeying Man’s order to remain in the U.S., but... (full context)