Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Anh Do, The Happiest Refugee (2010)

Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee: A Memoir (2010) tells the story of the life of a Vietnamese-born Australian comedian and television personality Anh Do and his family who fled communist Vietnam on a leaky, overcrowded boat when he was a child. 

This memoir shares the story of a Vietnamese refugee family that became an asset to their new country.  The memoir was written and published at a time when debates about the illegal immigrants who were arriving by boat were dividing the nation, and a large section of the population wanted tighter border controls. Although this family’s story does not directly engage with these contemporary debates, its publication at this time can be seen as indirectly contributing to these debates since the memoir provided material that can be used to counter those who argued for tighter border controls. 

The memoir consists of a series of anecdotes about surviving a perilous escape from communist Vietnam, about the challenges of settling in a new and unfamiliar country, and about the determined struggle required to rise from poverty though study and hard work.  As a young man, Anh Do learned from his parents the importance of seizing opportunities when they arise.  Eventually, Anh Do and most of his family enjoyed prosperous fulfilling lives. 

The memoir presents Anh Do as a likable individual, as a loving, devoted son to his hard-working mother, yet he also had a troubled relationship with his often distant father.  Eventually, an angry son was able to forgive his father and love triumphed in the end.  The memoir also tells how Anh Do made friends, found love, married an Anglo-Australian woman and had a family, and enjoyed a successful career.

Notably, the memoir expresses the gratitude of Anh Do and his family to the nation that gave them a second chance and was so generous in providing charity and opportunities.  The memoir also conveys that he and his family experienced almost no racism.  They were generally made to feel welcome and accepted.  They were given the chances available to everyone, and they made the most of them. The memoir tells the story of a son who wanted to make his parents proud, and did so. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

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The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: The Happiest Refugee meaning, The Happiest Refugee themes, The Happiest Refugee analysis, The Happiest Refugee notes