Why does Andrew drink so much during his time in Vietnam? On page 84, this is partially explained by his almost distant, anthropological observation of his own cousins (and himself): "That is how Vietnamese men bond. We only talk when we drink" (84). It is also a gendered activity, as indicated by the fact that the women of the family leave the men alone and are not invited to join, even though they are the ones serving the beer and cleaning up after the men. There is the unspoken implication that alcohol is how the Vietnamese men cope with their troubled lives in the lingering aftermath of the war. Perhaps Andrew himself would not be able to handle all of the emotions and vivid memories all at once, if he were to stay in the country he was exiled from, completely sober. Because the alcoholism in the family is so customary and given a "manly" face, when Andrew finally breaks down emotionally, his family tries to help him maintain a sense of dignity by denying his that his tears are actually from weeping (109).