The Sympathizer is narrated by a man defined by his duality, he is half Vietnamese and half French by blood (never fully accepted by either communities); he is a spy, so necessarily lives two roles, working for both the Viet Cong and South Vietnam; he is a Vietnamese refugee living in an America that other-izes him. The narrator opens with the declaration “I am also a man of two minds… able to see any issue from both sides” (1). While his ultimate loyalty lies with the Viet Cong/ Communist forces, he very clearly sympathizes with the people who are supposed to be his enemies. A particularly poignant moment is on the night before the fall of Saigon “They were my enemies, and yet they were also brothers-in-arms” (17) and sang together at the precipice of change, looking into the shared past (“feeling on the past and turning our gaze from the future”). The narrator is constantly torn, feeling for his enemies, and has a complicated relationship with the external world. This is also seen in his friendship with Bon, who hates the Communists that the narrator stands with. Despite these deep political differences, which are significant in the context of war, the narrator feels genuine affection and brotherhood for Bon even while maintaining constant deception. For most of the beginning of the confession, the narrator seems to navigate/ cope well with his many contradictions. He speaks matter of factly about their friendship/ enemy relationship (15), able to separate the two. It seems there is the possibility of cohesion and contradiction in harmony, which is further seen in the larger Vietnam and the Vietnamese community of refugees in America. Although within Vietnam, the war has violently torn a nation apart, the narrator reveals a continued sense of unity: “no matter how divided, all saw themselves as patriots fighting for a country to which they belonged” (30). The Vietnamese refugees endeavor to keep alive a national identity (69-70) despite how the community is composed of many different and opposite peoples.

Yet it is important to remember how the external war has brought about serious and real destruction and separation. In the evacuation, the very community seen in desperation had regarded only themselves (and family) every man for himself. Back in Vietnam, the Vietnamese have/are  engaged in violent and tragic attacks against one another. That conflict cannot be without complications for the collective identity. (Cannot simply say that despite differences/ they are together/ one).

With his role in the murder of the major, the narrator also starts identifying the complications of duality/ opposition in a whole. The narrator attempts to dissociate himself from his role (he had told the General that the major was the spy), by claiming he was “trapped by circumstance” (89). Nevertheless, the narrator goes through some moral doubt, and references Hegel “tragedy was not the conflict between right and wrong but right and right, a dilemma none of us who wanted to participate in history could escape. The major had the right to live, but I was right to kill him. Wasn’t I?” (102) The narrator had previously identified how both sides had good people, but until this point in his confession, he had not identified the severity of his dilemma (the Communist spy he failed was pure failure, not much of a conflict), and how his dual role forces him into very sticky moral positions.