An has quite a lengthy interlude with a ‘persimon-faced’ beggar girl while in Saigon. He identifies her as having a remarkable resemblance to a girl he was once intimate with and gives her the contents of his pockets. He goes so far as to say, “I was her. She, me. She was Trieu. Could be my sister Chi. Could be my own daughter. Random. My world- her world” (107). It seems odd that such a peculiar happenstance such as a run-in with a random beggar girl would bring An to such a profound notion of his own narrow escape of such an existence.
He goes on to present the solution as his parents money separating him from the destitution of Southern Vietnam and while that may have been a contributing factor, it hardly seems to be the solution as a whole. His cousin Hung makes money enough to drink himself into a stupor but still lives in relative squalor. He may be better off than the Trieu-look-a-like beggar girl, but really gives the impression of living a variation of the desolate life of South Vietnam.
It almost seems indelicate for An to compare his life (or what his life could’ve been) with that of the beggar child who has lived the nightmare he only thinks of on a whim of a daydream. He constantly makes reference to ‘westerners’, implying that he isn’t one, but doesn’t the distinction between their lives (the beggar girl and An’s) distinguish him as a westerner? He escaped her fate by finding refuge in the west; does that distance him from his fellow Vietnamese or is it irrelevant how he has lived since leaving?