The Importance Of Refugees In The Novel 'Inside Out And Back Again'

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Refugees are people who must flee their homes and their normal lives because war has made them feel unsafe. In the process, they often have to leave behind what’s important to them, as well as go to a place that may not welcome them at first. This, ultimately, turns a refugee’s life inside out. Then, they must learn to accept and how to be accepted in their new environment. Not until then will they have their lives back again. One refugee, named Ha, must go through this process in the novel, “Inside Out & Back Again” by Thanhha Lai. She is a ten year old girl, the youngest in her family, who is being raised in Saigon by a single mother. Before her home became a war zone, Ha lived a carefree life with a defiant spirit. Then war hit, and her…show more content…
An example of this is when Amela, a 17 year old refugee, explains, “... After I found out about my father’s death, everything seemed so useless.”(Brice 26) Here, Amela is suffering because someone close to her is gone because of war. Another example of this universal refugee experience is Ha, whose father, “left home on a navy mission… He was captured.”(Lai 12). Again, Ha lost a family member due to the war, proving this situation is universal across all refugees. In addition, she has also lost friends, her papaya tree, and her home. Another obstacle refugees face is discrimination within their new community, which is explained in “Refugee and Immigrant Children: A Comparison.” It says, “Both refugee and immigrant children may encounter society’s discrimination and racism.”(Fantino 9) Basically, when children come to a new country, it’s not rare for people to treat them differently because they’re different. We see this proven in Ha’s story. After coming home from a long day at school, Ha tells her mother, “They yell ‘Boo-Da Boo-Da’ at me. They pull my arm hair. They call me pancake face. They clap at me in class.”(Lai 215) Because Ha looks and speaks differently, many of the kids at her new school tease and bully her. It’s very common for refugees to lose the things they love, and in addition, must endure discrimination in their new community, which all results in their…show more content…
The first step for refugees is to accept their new home, which is illustrated by Arthur Brice. When Amela was asked what life was like in the U.S., she said, “... America is giving us a chance for a better future than we could have in Bosnia.”(Brice 26) Amela misses her home, but she also understands that America is where she needs to be in order to have a better life. We also see this in “Inside Out & Back Again” when Ha tastes the rehydrated papaya strips and says, “strips of papaya gooey and damp… not the same, but not bad at all.”(Lai 234) At first, Ha had rejected the dried papaya because it didn’t taste like the ones in Saigon. In this quote, however, she’s starting to accept and get used to life in America and understand that these changes might be for the best. Soon after this event, Ha accepts her father’s death as well. The second step to having your life back is being accepted. When talking about child refugees adapting in their new environment, Fantino and Colak say, “One key factor in determining success is the reception of newcomers by the host society.”(Fantino 9) This is proven in Ha’s story. After being rejected by others in her neighborhood, she finds Mrs. Washington, who “throws her arms and hugs [Ha’s family]”(Lai 164) Ha has finally found someone in her host society who accepts her, and this plays a
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