Le Ly Hayslip and the Emblematic Victim
This chapter examines how the figure of the victim is important in the cultural representations of American wars in Asia, particularly Viet Nam. The Vietnam War has, of course, been that most difficult of wars for the United States, and not surprisingly, the figure of the victim appears often in the American iconography of the war. One of the most important of “victims” to emerge from the war is Le Ly Hayslip, Vietnamese American author of two autobiographies, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places and Child of War, Woman of Peace. Through her extraordinary personal story, she not only symbolically assumes the collective pain of millions of Vietnamese, but also the victim's burden of forgiving the victimizer. Hayslip's role as emblematic victim is crucial in the postwar American discourse of recovery and reconciliation.
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