Critical Review: No Mans Land – Dan (condensed)

No Mans Land

No mans landThe Vietnamese have struggled trying to make a decent living post-Vietnam war. Duong Thu Huong herself has personally lived through these hard times. She has made an effort within her novel “No Mans Land” to accurately portray the struggles faced by the Vietnamese. She has done so by addressing particular themes. Themes of religion, classism, sacrifice, prostitution, and men and woman social roles are all utilized by Duong Thu Huong to represent the suffering of those living within Vietnam. Classism presents itself within the diverse lifestyles that Mien lives. Her life with Hoan, a businessman who works in the city; is described as a lavish lifestyle. However, in comparison, her life with Bon on the farm in central Vietnam, is described as a life of poverty. Miens decision to leave Hoan and return back to Bon is the initial sacrifice described within “No Mans Land” however; it is not the only sacrifice as many other characters have their own individual sacrifices. As the story develops Duong Thu Huong utilizes prostitution and the brothels visited by Hoan and his friend as a theme to describe the broken infrastructure of Vietnam. Religion within “No Mans Land” incorporates Buddhism and places a large reference on Confucianism. Confucianism is evident within the story as many characters feel they have a moral obligation to the Vietnamese Communist Party. Duong Thu Huong also incorporates the roles of men and woman as she attempts to define them through Miens obligations as a wife, Hoans desire to provide for his wife, as well as Bons attempts to provide. No Mans Land discusses controversial topics thoughtfully and vividly. Her neglect to adhere to the demands of the Vietnamese Communist Party is apparent within this novel. Duong Thu Huong ultimately does an amazing job describing the lives of those who suffer in Vietnam.

-Danny Hess

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