Keeping Family Alive- First They Killed My Father

Topics: Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, Phnom Penh Pages: 4 (1496 words) Published: March 18, 2011
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’s perspective in her memoir, “First They Killed My Father”, her family is vital although they are forced to separate and start new lives. However, after all of the losses she is forced to cope with and the separations of different family members, she remains loyal to her family and does not forget its importance in her life. She constructs a portrayal of her family by describing how all of the deaths and atrocities affect her and her family. Despite certain circumstances, Loung’s concept of family stays the same. Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. The families lived in a moderate apartment and they were considered upper-middle class citizens of Cambodia. She lives with her mother, father, and six siblings in Phnom Penh where they have many privileges compared to those of other lower class Cambodians. In this memoir, Ung tries to make her family seem like a typical family in the mold of the American middle class. She repeats the term “middle class” as if saying it more will lead to more people believing her. The description of her family’s wealth reveals otherwise. For Cambodia, however, their possessions place them economically in the upper class of Cambodian society. Ung notes, “I know we are middle-class because of our apartment and the possessions we have” (7). It is as though she is striving for the readers to think they were a typical American family. They had a privileged life: they owned two telephones, had a full-time maid, had two cars and a truck, and had expensive “antique jewelry” in her Ma’s possession (146). In America,...
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