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Word Count: 833
The Vietnam War has continued to play itself out in fiction history books and autobiographies but no American writer has captured the essence of the Vietnamese like Robert Olen Butler Butler captures the lives of a people that managed to beat the odds and survive in a new country Madison Bell wrote in the Chicago Tribune Butlers achievement is not only to reveal the inner lives of the Vietnamese but to show through their eyes how the rest of us appear from an outside perspective Butler accurately describes the tensions felt between and among the Vietnamese community both in America and native Vietnam and the effects the war had on its diverse populations The lines drawn between the Vietnamese themselves--religious sociopolitical etc--play an important role in Butlers stories exhibiting his knowledge for the many cultures hidden under the umbrella of nationality In almost all of the stories there is a sense of the tensions for example between the Buddhist and Catholic traditions in Vietnam help illustrate the countrys still decaying sense of unity among its people As in the story of Mr Green the grandfather tells his granddaughter that when he passes on she will not be able to pray for him He told the granddaughter that she was a girl So its not possible for you to do it alone Only a son can oversee the worship of his ancestors Butler 19 This statement by the grandfather in itself is enough to make the granddaughter want to prove that she can pray over her ancestors as well as any man could as well as pray for him using the Buddhist traditions as well as the Catholic traditions Touching on folklore threatened tradition and the general plight of humanity Butler invites us into the worlds of the Vietnamese people illustrating that their only commonality in the simple label Vietnamese a word with numerous and often conflicting connotations In the story Open Arms the practicality that
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