Waiting for a Friend ...

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Waiting for a Friend by Ngo Tu Lap:

Waiting for a Friend by Ngo Tu Lap


Author Ngo Tu Lap Born on June 4, 1962 in Hanoi, Vietnam’s leading literary artist captured much of his experiences in Trung du-an underground war shelter and evacuation community located in northern midland of Vietnam. Trung du became his literary universe where he wrote poems, short stories, and essays about displaced Vietnamese men and women in hiding. After the Vietnam war, Ngo Tu Lap was sent to Baku Maritime University in USSR to take a Navigation degree. After completing the course in 1986, he served as captain in Vietnamese Navy.

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He then enrolled in Hanoi Law College and completed his law degree in 1993. In 1996, he earned a Master in Literature degree in Paris. Aside from creative writing, he has also engaged in translation. His collection of short fiction entitled Sleepwalking and Other Short Stories was published in 1997.


Summary The narrator is a soldier who died. He narrates the cause of his own death and his comrades’ downfall. One night, the enemies attacked and they used a tank to kill them. The narrator’s body was blown to pieces, covered by an enormous rock and never found by anyone except birds and weeds. But the bodies of the squad were discovered and found. He has a friend named Ha. Of the whole squad, only he remains. He had survived because it happened that he’s looking for a food when the enemies attacked. He had stepped on a concealed booby trap. Every year, Ha is going back and they, the narrator’s and the squad’s spirits, hear his limping footsteps come around the same bend where the tank had appeared. He weeps as he lights the sticks of

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incense. What Ha doesn’t know, his friends are waiting for him to die so that he can already rejoin the squad. On the other hand, they are hoping that he will forget and go on living. They have been waiting ten years but Ha is still missing.

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View Points 1. Who is the narrator of the story? Describe the state of disintegration that happened to the narrator’s corpse. Answer: - A soldier who died. A friend of Ha. His corpse is at the foot of Dun Mountain, pinned underneath a gray rock that is shaped like the head of an elephant and covered now with luxuriant foliage. His feet were burned to ashes under the wrecked tank. His head blown away to the edge of a stream. Floodwaters floated it out to the Cai River. It came to rest in the mud flats of the Vam Delta

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where it became stuck between two big roots. Some of the ash from his feet were on its way to Japan. What tragic accident happens to the squad of Vietnamese soldiers’ among them Ha and the narrator? Answer: It’s a surprise attack from their enemies. An ambush. How does Ha survive this near-death experience with the enemies?

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Answer: Because he had stepped on a concealed booby trap when he was gone off looking for food to eat. What is the narrator’s attitude toward his own death a well as his comrades’ downfall from the hands of the enemies? Answer: He is sad and quite bitter about it. Sad because Ha is missing and bitter because they are defeated.

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Why does Ha keep a yearly visit to the spot where his comrades fall? Answer: -Ha keep a yearly visit to the spot where his comrades fall because he doesn’t forget them. That’s the last time that they had been together. He lights sticks of incense and pray for them. What is the meaning of the sentence in the last paragraph which states “We have been waiting years”? Who is/ are waiting for a friend?

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Answer: It means that they are for the time that Ha will also die so that he can rejoin the squad. He should be a spirit also. Why does the author use a dead person as a protagonist-narrator of this story? Answer: The author used a dead person as protagonist-narrator because he wants to show that death has positive sides. It’s something that we should celebrate because it’s the stage wherein we are free from hunger, thirst, mortality, etc. He also wants to show that friendship never dies even after death

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