Refugee Experience In Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out And Back Again

November 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

Throughout history countries have been going through war, whether its country turning against country, or the country turning against their own people. In the novel, Inside Out & Back Again you learn how a girl named Ha and her family go through the refugee experience. The novel’s title, Inside Out & Back Again, relates refugees feeling to “inside out” by them going through hardships, yet they come “back again” when they create a new life in their new community. Ha’s experience connects to the universal refugee by them both going through hardships, and having to create a new life for themselves.

‘I have no choice but to run.’ Refugee’s lives are turned “inside out” when they flee their homelands because of the hardships of war around them. During the Vietnam War the Vietnamese are trying to flee because of the war which is very hectic, chaotic, and hard for them. This was what Ha and her family sadly had to go through on their trip to America. In the article, Panic Rises in Saigon but the Exits Are Few it says, “Panic is clearly visible in Saigon now as thousands of Vietnamese try desperately to find ways to flee their country.” Fleeing is hard for the Vietnamese because everyone is panicking and trying to leave as fast as possible. Ha went through the hardship of having to live on a malnourished boat on her escape to America. In the poem One Engine in Inside Out & Back Again on page 88 it states, “The commander decides the ration is now half a clump of rice only at morning and night, and one cup or water all day.” They have lowered the ration of rice, which means they will be fed even less food, and a lower amount of water. Once Ha and the rest of the people get to a tent island called Guam they get limited to the amount of the good food they get since no one wants to eat the nasty slop that is plentiful. In the poem Tent City in Inside Out & Back Again on pages 96-97 it states, “We eat only canned fruit in thick syrup, and everyone wants extras but we only get one cup.” The people are very hungry and want more fruit since the other food it unappealing, but they can’t have more than the limitation of one cup. Altogether you can see that refugee’s lives get turned “inside out” when they flee their homelands because of what’s happening to the community around them.

‘Mother thinks of everything.’ The lives of refugees turn “back again” when they are able to create a new life for themselves in their new community. A lot of refugees get resettled into new countries for better lives. In the text, Refugees: Who, Where, Why? states, “Millions of refugees have been successfully resettled in ten established resettlement countries.” Refugees get resettled and are able to restart their new life in resettlement countries that allow them to pursue a better lifestyle. Ha and her family get a new home in America thanks to their sponsor from Alabama who gets it for them. In the poem American Address in Inside Out & Back Again on page 124 it states, “Our cowboy in an even taller hat finds us a house on Princess Anne Road, pays rent ahead three months.” The cowboy gets them a house so they can live on their own and begin their new life in their own house instead of his basement. Ha and her family will all be out of the house either at school or work pursuing their new life. In the poem The Outside in Inside Out & Back Again on page 136 it tells, “Starting tomorrow everyone must leave the house.” Ha and her family will be at work and school to get an education or money so that they can do better their new life. It has been shown that, the lives of refugees turn “back again” when they create a new life for themselves.

The book Inside Out and Back Again connects fleeing to being “inside out” since the war makes them leave their home, and then they are able to come “back again” by creating their new life. Ha’s experience likened to the universal refugee experience due to going through hardships, having to start from completely nothing, and having to rebuild a new life for themselves and their family. Although refugees go through the worst, they make history that continues to be praised throughout generations of their family after them.

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