The speaker throughout the collection is loosely defined but consistent. This speaker has both a personal history and life experiences that are similar to those of the poet, Ocean Vuong, and it is likely that the collection is intended to be at least loosely autobiographical. Some of the speaker's defining traits are his fraught relationship with his father, his love for his mother, his status as an immigrant, his homosexuality, and his rejection of the American ideal as hollow and empty.
At the same time, there are some other poems (notably, "My Father Writes from Prison," "Of Thee I Sing," and "Seventh Circle of Earth") that rely on the speaker's adoption of different personas. These poems shed light not just on the multiplicity of possible life experiences in different places, but they also bring out, emphasize, or shed new light on qualities that we already know to be present in our speaker.