Friday, May 31, 2013

The Row of Flowers

Hang Bong, the Row of Flowers, is the euphemistic name of the prostitution hub Andrew observes in Saigon. It is representative of the lingering effects of the American war, and shows that the reunification of Vietnam has not resulted in significantly increased quality of life. Women in Hang Bong are flowers--beautiful, but reduced to objects for sale, robbed of humanity. They are just another one of the many wares on offer in the streets of Saigon, being sold alongside snacks, goods for consumption. Foreigners are the ones who get the best women, which reflects the inferiority complex many Vietnamese feel when they compare their condition to the West. By comparing the women to flowers, the women are presented as delicate and fragile. This vulnerability makes their situation more tragic, as instead of being cultivated and nurtured, these flowers are picked and sold off to the highest bidder, no longer able to grow independent and free from outside forces. The garden of Vietnam has been uprooted and sold off.

By Gregory


  1. I'm definitely impressed by your perspective of women in the novel. I specifically found your connection with flowers and prostitution and how beauty if essentially up for sale. It epitomizes how the war has essentially wiped all the innocence out of the the people and even the environment. Survival is now the only way of living.

  2. You're analysis of the prostitution is very rich. When I first read I did not think too much about the recurrence of prostitution but after this it demonstrate another facet of the lost of roots. Women are turn to commodities and the ones with the best looks are better off because they can attract better payment for their services while the not so well looking have to go into different work.

  3. When I read, I did not think so deeply about prostitution except that they needed to do what was necessary to survive. Reading your analysis really helped me see much more about the women An encountered, that they are more than just the commodities they had become. I also never would have bothered to look up what Hang Bong meant, so this was very insightful.


  4. Your view of women and prostitution in the memoir is very meaningful and insightful. I like that you also address the issues of inferiority as well. It is interesting that the foreign men still get to have the best women. I love your feministic outlook and critique of this image in the work. These women are absolutely not independent from their surroundings or conditions, as you so passionately demonstrate in your blog.


  5. Being that these prostitutes are objectified directly relates to an American influence of conspicuous consumption. As you point out, these "flowers" are not symbolic of a mature love, but a forced and superficial anecdote to the more long term problem of post-war reconstruction. What is left of the war are all the bad influences of American identity: capital, sex, consumerism, and its these facets that An recognizes as something inherited by his American ethnocentrism.