Only The Heart is a novel written by Brian Caswell and David Chiem that tells a story familiar to many Australians. A Vietnamese family is threatened, pulled apart by the war in that country. Some of its members disappear; hard-earned wealth is lost. The novel leads the reader to a new understanding of refugees with the demonstrated views of pain, determination, survival and freedom, which are brought to life throughout the novel. The fall of Saigon in 1975 provides the momentum for Mai and her daughters, Phuong and Linh, with Mai's brother Minh, his wife Hoa and their three sons, to escape the new regime that has transformed their country into a prison.
The novel Only the Heart shows that just because they are refugees they are not helpless, useless or lesser than any other human. They can still achieve greatness in many ways. Toan and his family achieve a sense of accomplishment when they finally arrive at Australia. “It was strange and exciting. The beginning of the dream.” (Chapter 14, Fortune and Flying South; pages 152 – 153). Toan’s thoughts not only represent his own sense of accomplishment and achievement but his family’s too. It puts attention on their excitement, happiness and sense of relief. It is an achievement of great feats as the family endured the hardships of the long boat trip and the re-education camp to finally achieving freedom and happiness being able to finally live freely in Australia. An achievement of Toan’s is when he got his first acting gig. “ He was the first Vietnamese actor young or old – to score a starring role in a television series in Australia. Out of all the hopefuls, they’d chosen him.” “ It was a source of pride that one of their own had made it.” (chapter 16, Cattle Call, page 165). This shows that if one has a passion for something and if you work for it you can truly achieve, no matter who you are.. The quotes show that not only was toan proud of himself but also the Vietnamese community in Australia. These...
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