The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer

by

Viet Thanh Nguyen

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The Watchman Character Analysis

The leader of cell C-7 of terrorist unit Z-99. The terrorist unit is based in the secret zone of Binh Duong Province and has been responsible for hundreds of grenade attacks, minings, bombings, mortarings, and assassinations that have killed a few thousand people and have terrorized all of Saigon. The terrorist unit’s specialty is the dual bomb attack, with the second designed to kill rescuers. He gets his name due to his ability to turn wristwatches into triggering devices for these improvised bombs. He removes the second and hour hands from watches, inserts a battery wire through a hole in the crystal, and sets the minute hand to the desired delay time. He is “a tiny, shivering man with a full head of coarse hair.” He is a graduate of philosophy from the University of Saigon and the eldest son in a respectable Catholic family who has disowned him due to his radical activities. Before becoming a terrorist, he was an actual watchmaker.
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The Watchman Character Timeline in The Sympathizer

The timeline below shows where the character The Watchman appears in The Sympathizer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Loyalty vs. Duplicity Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The narrator entered the Watchman ’s cell, trying to figure out how to be both his enemy and his friend.... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
The narrator set out to prove to the Watchman that he was as smart as he thought he was, which meant smarter than the... (full context)
Cultural Duality Theme Icon
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
...good student, happy for Claude’s praise, which he earned from knowing what his teacher wanted. The Watchman was a bad student. He knew the Americans’ teachings but rejected them outright. The narrator... (full context)
Moral Ambivalence and Purpose Theme Icon
Inside of his cell, the Watchman was curled up on his white bed, facing the white wall. He was wearing white... (full context)