First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers Themes

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers Themes


Throughout the Khmer Rouge takeover, the only way to survive is through family. Without each other, it would have been unlikely that the Ung family would survive. Pa was wise and helped the family escape the city. Kim sacrificed his well-being to get extra food for the family. Meng and Khouy worked hard and brought extra food back to the family. Loung and Chou kept each other company and helped each other through the rough times. Ma kept fighting in able to help her youngest, Geak.

Life is not always fair

As seen in the beginning of the book, the Ung family had a privileged life. With a caretaker, two cars, and a nice home, the family had little worries. However, in a matter of three days, everything changes. Their once peaceful life was ruined. Death and destruction surrounded them. All Loung wondered was why this was happening to them. Through this, she learned how life is not always fair.


The family cooperates with the Khmer Rouge in able to survive. When they first leave the city, Pa gives a soldier his watch. Although this is only a small detail, if Pa didn't cooperate, it is likely that is family would have faced trouble. The entire family cooperated with the soldiers and did any of the orders that they were given.

Sacrifice to Survive

The Ung family sacrificed many things to survive the Khmer Rouge takeover. They gave up their entire life in fear of the consequences of the soldiers. Kim sacrificed his well-being for extra food. Pa sacrificed some of his food ration to give to his family. The family broke apart in able to have a better chance of survival. Almost every action the family took sacrificed something, all having one common goal, the want to survive.

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