Of course, this is only one type of erasure faced by the speaker in the collection—notably, he also faces marginalization based on his race and his status as an immigrant. He is unable to completely cut off his father in his mind, and he at times even outright refuses to confront his misdeeds (“Deto(nation)”). In an interview with The Guardian’s Claire Armitstead, Vuong himself addressed this engagement nicely: "Western mythology is so charged with the father […] Personally, I’m always asking who’s my father. As Ocean Vuong navigates the … resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. The body in passion met with the body experiencing struggle and difficulty give rise to the speaker’s family line (“Self Portrait as Exit Wounds”). Despite the fact that even he himself faces discrimination in America on account of his race and sexuality, the speaker is able to help his parents ensure that their migration was not in vain by reenacting and making known their struggle, the immigrant struggle that is so often invisible or erased. In poems like “Seventh Circle of Earth,” Vuong and his speaker suggest that being gay is antithetical to the constructed cultural ideal of America, and that to be gay in America is necessarily to be erased at every moment in one’s life. This, however, is not all: Night Sky with Exit Wounds is not just focused on honestly depicting the experience of being gay, but being gay in America. It's a fierce, provocative, political, and sensual collection that I found both … Related to the body’s capacity to unify opposing forces is the speaker’s treatment of gay love in America. / Yikes.” The fact that, even amidst a backdrop of war and destruction, there is tenderness and love that is so personal and significant for the speaker is a central theme that runs throughout the collection insofar as it ties in with the collection’s larger project of exploring duality. One of the other things that troubles the speaker immensely throughout the collection is his relationship with his father, as well as his father's relationship with his mother. Night Sky With Exit Wounds is broken into three untitled sections, with the introductory poem "Threshold" preceding the start of the first section. Nonetheless, the speaker’s relationships with many different men do progress, reflecting one of the many paradoxes that finds its solution in the body—despite knowing what it may cost, the speaker and his lovers choose to love one another because of how it makes them feel or how close it brings them to the peak of life. Like Homer, I felt I’d better make it up. This deepens our understanding of the relationship between the speaker’s parents and what kinds of stress it was under. He remarks on their physical similarity, among other things (“Telemachus”), but he also seems to respect and understand his father as a passionate and kind lover with a troubled past that leads him to lash out (“My Father Writes from Prison”). Central to the speaker’s undertaking of both of these tasks is his choice to foreground and center the body as a site where opposites are unified. Night Sky With Exit Wounds examines the legacy of the Vietnam War on both global and personal levels. In most poems in the collection (notably, “Homewrecker” and “Prayer for the Newly Damned”), the love between two boys or two men is presented as something that both participants—or at the very least the speaker—know will lead to upset or violence within their family. In "Self-Portrait as Exit Wounds," Vuong describes the anti-Vietnamese sentiments that cropped up in American culture during the Vietnam, and he uses the example of an audience cheering for John Wayne after he shoots a Vietnamese man in a film about the war. Night Sky with Exit Wounds study guide contains a biography of Ocean Vuong, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Night Sky With Exit Wounds. The poem "Homewrecker" is the fourteenth poem in Ocean Vuong's Night Sky with Exit Wounds, and it is the second poem of the book's second section. In "Seventh Circle of Earth," for example, we see how two gay men have so internalized this frail American ideal that they are conditioned to accept their own annihilation or destruction. Though it might seem odd for a child to fixate on his parents’ sex lives, doing so renders his father as a more sympathetic character and also allows the conflict between his parents to be incorporated into his broader exploration of sex and the body. He stands at the feet of American poetry and unties the masters’ shoelaces. Moreover, as critics like Michiko Kakutani and Christopher R. Vaughan have noted, Night Sky With Exit Wounds is a collection that locates the intersection of all these tensions and conflicts in the body, which mutates throughout the collection to fill a variety of roles. The tenderness associated with both the speaker’s grandparents and parents in Vietnam makes it all the more heartbreaking that they were displaced from the country, but the speaker himself never forgets his own roots in violent events. Separately, however, the last prose line of the poem suggests that the speaker sees another important aspect of tackling the immigrant experience in writing: “Everyone can forget / us—as long as you remember.” The speaker knows how arduous the experience of immigration was for his parents, and he knows that it led to a less-than-glamorous place (e.g., his father’s abuses, his mother working at a nail salon à la “The Gift”), but he knows that it was for him and his well-being. In Night Sky with Exit Wounds, the idea of the American Dream is thus presented as just that—a dream with little substance. The sacred and the profane meet in the body as the devotional act of prayer is commingled with devotional acts of sex and physical passion (“Devotion”). Thus no bombs = no family = no me. Regarding the former, the speaker struggles to reconcile his distance from his estranged father, as well as the abuse he knows his mother has suffered at his hands, with the closeness he feels to his father. By understanding what brings them together so intimately, we are even more taken aback by the knowledge that their relationship is doomed to fail, giving us more personal investment in their relationship and placing us in the position of the speaker. This is importantly linked to the speaker’s interrogation of the body as a unifying force, one that connects the struggles of real people to the struggles that are lauded, told, and retold as part of the Western literary tradition. In one poem, the body is fragile, but in the next, it is a testament to the stubborn truth of simply living despite hardship. Americans came to view the Vietnamese as an enemy, and viewed them with distrust if not outright hatred. His own body as a recipient of pain and abuse fuels his capacity to receive and deliver both harm and tenderness to others with his body (“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”). Another important theme that runs throughout the collection comes in the form of mythology—specifically, mythology’s encounters with the everyday or mundane. Considering the complexity and ambiguity of this past is one thing that gets the speaker thinking about his own ability to act violently and tenderly in the present. This complex sense of erasure experienced by the speaker sheds a great deal of light on why he finds salvation in the body, which unifies the various identities that lead to his societal rejection. The Question and Answer section for Night Sky with Exit Wounds is a great Only in "Untitled," where 9/11 commingles with the loss of a friend of the speaker's, do we really get any sympathy on the speaker's part for America; however, even this sympathy is conditioned by the fact that it is for the experience of loss or sorrow, rather than anything intrinsically linked to America.
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