top-rated free essay

First They Killed My Father

By foxylcg Apr 15, 2008 1028 Words
In 1975, The Khmer Rouge became the ruling political party of Cambodia after overthrowing the Lon Nol government. Following their leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society. They wanted to form an anti-modern, anti-Western ideal of a restructured “classless agrarian society'', a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. The Khmer Rouge revolutionary army enforced this mostly with extreme violence. The book “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers”, written by Luong Ung, is the author’s story of growing up during this time period. She was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came into power. As stated in the author’s note, “From 1975 to 1979, through execution, starvation, disease, and forced labor, the Khmer Rouge systematically killed an estimated two million Cambodians, almost a fourth of the country’s population.”

There are several reasons why Luong wrote the book “First They Killed My Father”. One reason would be to show how people struggle to survive against all odds. Another reason for writing this book would be to show how the government's intentions and its actions can differ. She is also attempting to show how important family is and the effects that war can have on a person.

When the Khmer Rouge overthrew the Cambodian government and took over, Luong Ung was only five years old. She lived through the entire period of the Khmer Rouge being in power, which is why she can provide first hand evidence of the war and its effects on the people of Cambodia. She had to live through the harsh conditions and had her innocence stolen by the new government and its brutality and disregard for the people it governed. Yet, she was able to keep her spirit alive, triumph over this tragedy and tell her story. She didn’t have to generalize, seeing as she witnessed every event that occurred in the story. She was able to prove her thesis by telling her story in great detail. From the moment the Khmer Rouge came through Phnom Penh to the moment where she got on the plane headed to Vermont, the details were vivid and very graphic. The evidence was definitely interwoven throughout the story in a way that was consistent with proving the author’s thesis. The author proved her thesis by describing every event that occurred. These events justify her thesis and result in many lessons being learned by reading this book. There are many valuable lessons in this book. Even as a young child, Luong had to learn how to survive through this terrible situation. One lesson is that family is very important. Without her father, mother, sisters, and brothers, Luong wouldn’t have been able to survive. Without her brothers and father providing the family with food, the family wouldn’t have been able to survive. A second lesson is that sometimes a person or government’s actions can be different than their original intentions and ideas. The thought of having a classless society might seem good, but in reality, it is very impractical. A third theme is that even in bad situations, you have to have a good spirit. Even though her parents and two of her sisters were brutally murdered by the Khmer Rouge, she was still able to keep her spirit alive and triumph over all of the obstacles that were in her way. A fourth lesson is the violence is never the solution to a problem. The Khmer Rouge used violence to instill their ideas into the citizens of Cambodia. This obviously didn’t succeed, seeing as their eventually overthrown. Governments should never use violence because besides it being morally and ethically wrong, this will cause its citizens to be unhappy. A government with unhappy citizens won’t last because governments need to have support from their citizens. A fifth lesson is that person’s words can differ from the things that they do. The government said that they were doing some good and productive, but in the long run, everything that they did was corrupt, immoral, and cruel. A book like this greatly affects the way people perceive this topic. By reading this book, you learn exactly how life was during this time period. You gain knowledge about how the war started and ended and about the techniques that the government used to attempt to create a new society. You learn about the harsh conditions that people had to endure, from starvation to disease to seeing their family members taken away and never being heard from again. Luong Ung once stated, "I wanted [the readers] to be there". This book has raised many intellectual questions in my mind. Why weren’t Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge stopped earlier? Did any other countries know about the atrocities that were happening in Cambodia during this time? Did they try to stop this from happening? What happened exactly to Luong’s father? Why was Geak killed? What made Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge think that a “classless agrarian society” would be the best type of society? Why did the government instantly use force instead of finding some other method? Why couldn’t the Lon Nol government fight off the Khmer Rouge?

The story “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers” is a riveting tale about life during the Khmer Rouge’s takeover of the Cambodian government. Luong Ung has said, "As I tell people about genocide, I get the opportunity to redeem myself ... It's empowering; it feels right. The more I tell people, the less the nightmares haunt me. The more people listen to me, the less I hate." I believe that the more Luong Ung is able to spread her story to others and cause them to become aware of the tragedy that transpired, the more it becomes less likely for a catastrophe like this to ever take place again. Hearing Luong Ung’s story will encourage readers to triumph over any obstacle that they may face in life.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • First They Killed My Father

    ...“There is such hate and rage inside me now that I know I have the power to destroy and kill.” Do you think Loung’s hate and rage made her strong in the face of adversity? Discuss. The novel, First They Killed My Father, written by and told from the perspective of Loung Ung, is a chilling tale of a disturbed childhood, where the impact a...

    Read More
  • First They Killed My Father

    ...First They Killed My Father First They Killed My Father demonstrates that when people live in constant fear they begin to live only for themselves. Discuss, the constant fear, which is portrayed by the Ung family, is one which would push any person who experienced this to only fend for themselves, as it is the only way to survive. Human adaptab...

    Read More
  • First They Killed My Father

    ...FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER -2 How many of us have ever experienced sorrow, true starvation and death; all by the age of nine? Is it even possible for us to comprehend the intensity of those emotions if we haven't yet experienced them ourselves? Probably not. Yet this is the task Loung Ung had set upon. I believe she succeeded in providing u...

    Read More
  • First They Killed My Father

    ...First They Killed My Father.. quotes Death and Revenge: * P 146 - I hate the soldiers... I etch their faces into my memory and plan for the day when I come back and kill them. * P 159 – We are all different now... I am sad and many days I wish I am dead. * P 143 – My hate empowers and scares me... Rage makes me want to survive. ...

    Read More
  • Keeping Family Alive- First They Killed My Father

    ...After the Khmer Rouge takes over the city of Phnom Penh in 1975, the Ung family struggles to stay together. Days go by without food and rest, making it hard to stay strong while traveling. Over the course of several years, the family becomes separated and several members die, leaving Loung Ung to question the concept of her family. From Loung...

    Read More
  • First They Killed My Father Analysis

    ...genocide that is explained by Loung Ung in her novel First They Killed My Father. The story goes in depth of her struggles during the genocide being only the age of 5. She puts on a display of strength and perseverance during her journey as a victim of the Khmer Rouge. In the book, First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, Ung explores the idea ...

    Read More
  • First They Killed My Father Essay Example

    ...Song Analysis for First They Killed my Father In Phnom Penh a little girl named Loung and her family had to leave everything behind because of the Khmer Rouge soldiers. Loung Ung wrote a book of her life in Cambodia and three themes for the book are confusion, pain, and hope. This book is called First They Killed My Father and the song I chose...

    Read More
  • " First They Killed My Father" Book Critique

    ...Loung Ung-the author- is an average middle-class five year old. She has three older brothers, two older sisters and a younger sister. Her parents “ma” and “pa” have been married since they were teenagers. On April 17, 1975 the Ung’s life style would be changed for the rest of their lives, when the Khmer Rouge soldiers arrive in the fam...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.