The Boat Themes

The Boat Themes

Life as an emigrant is complex.

By highlighting several different cultures throughout the collection, Le points the reader to the complexity of identity, particularly the relationship one has to places they used to live. For a group of refugees, the prospect of what life will be like in a new place is among the most important considerations they might have, and by showing complex emotional moments, the story-teller answers that question in a way, indicating that nothing is simple or obvious anymore.

People's points of view are sacred.

By including a narrator with the same name as the author, the author Nam Le is admitting that he is speaking from his perspective, and he makes that allowance because the author thoughtfully considered how he could best preserve the stories he tells from other people's lives. For him, admitting his bias in this strange stylistic way is a way of telling the reader to take everything as subjective.

The whole earth is valuable, not one particular culture or way of life.

One lesson that Le seems to have taken from his past as an infant refugee is that every culture of the earth is valuable. Imagine being a first generation immigrant who came to a new place too early to remember the old one. For Le, this created a sense of respect for the places we can't see, and so his stories from various settings are each given a significance within the broad perspective of the collection.

Stories are like emotional currency.

By preserving the stories of his parents and his loved ones, and by telling his own point of view, Le demonstrates how narratives can be inherited, and he won several awards for this collection for this feature. It was critically acclaimed for its treatment of narrative, especially the short story form.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.