The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Sympathizer


Friendship can be stronger than ideology. Time and time again we see the Captain helping people who are ideological enemies, even at the risk of his own life. He disobeys communist orders and returns to Vietnam to save Bon. Man risks his own position with the communists to save Bon and the Captain. For them, friendship is more important than ideology.


Communism sucks. The Captain spends most of the book in service to communism. But by the end he realizes that communism is a narrow ideology that represses free thought, and that communists are as cruel as he once thought the Americans and South Vietnamese government were. Even Man, who is an important commissar, no longer believes in communism, which is why he purposefully tried to get the Captain out of the country and to keep him there.

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Men who eat their own sperm are not necessarily virtuous. The Captain ejaculated into a squid which was to be cooked. But rather than let one of his family members eat his sperm laden squid, the Captain ate it himself. That shows that the Captain appears to be a virtuous man, at least when it comes to preventing family members from effectively sucking his dick. All the Captain's virtue, however, goes out the window when it comes to executing innocent people, which the Captain does twice, and kills many more with his informing activities.


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