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“The Happiest Refugee” by Anh Do Essay

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The book The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do is about a young family in Vietnam who risk their lives to travel illegally to Australia. In the middle of the ocean with the sun beating down on a jam packed boat, with water supplies already running low, more trouble arrives, a pirate ship. With all their goods taken, hope for survival is at their lowest. Just as everything seems lost, a German ship arrives. The family reaches Australia safely and kindness surounds them. Anh lives with his mum, dad, brother Khoa and sister Tram in a suburb in Sydney. He is now famous as a comedian and is happily married with 3 children. There are many good examples of positive character traits shown through Anh Do’s Life. Some of these include the kindness from Anh’s mother, bravery from Anh’s father, forgiveness from Anh and generosity from two nuns from St Vincent de Paul.

There are many positive character traits demonstrated in The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do. “Kindness” was one of the main character traits shown throughout the book. This was demonstrated by Anh’s mother when she invited people to her home to live with her and her family. You can see this as she is always helping others even if she wasn’t in the greatest position. “Mum and Dad naturally seemed to attract these people…….. my mother would hear about people with nowhere to go and simply say ‘Send them to me’.” (pg 45) This quote proves that she was kind as she knew how it felt to have no where to go so she let people stay with her. The way Anh’s mother lets other people into her home is an example of kindness demonstrated through Anh’s life.

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A positive character trait that was demonstrated through the life of Anh Do was “bravery”. This was shown by Anh’s father. There are many moments in this autobiography where bravery can be seen by Anh’s father. An obvious example of this would be when he dressed up as a high- ranking communist officer at a re-education camp and freed his two brothers. If he was caught doing this he could have put himself into extreme danger. “ One sunny afternoon my father walked into the remote re- education camp dressed up as a high- ranking communist officer. He marched right through the front door of the communist officer’s room. ‘These two men need to come with me’, he demanded. ………..My father then walked my uncles out of the camp, right out the front gate.”(pg 8)This quote shows breathtaking bravery from Anh’s father as he could potentially have been sentenced to death if he was caught. This is just one example of a positive character trait shown through Anh’s life.

Another positive character trait that was demonstrated through Anh’s life in The Happiest Refugee was “generosity”. This was demonstrated by two nuns from St Vincent de Paul when they gave the Do family bags of clothes free of charge when they first arrived to Australia with no money. “One of the first things that happened was two smiley nuns from St Vincent de Paul came and gave our family a huge garbage bag stuffed full of clothes. No charge. For free!” (pg 28) This quote proves that Anh grew up around generous people throughout his childhood and it resulted in him being generous towards people. By the nuns giving their family clothes for free, shows the a positive character trait that Anh grew up with.

“Forgiveness” was a positive character trait that was shown by Anh at the end of the book. Earlier in the book Anh’s father left Anh’s mother because of his excessive drinking habits and physical abuse. Anh struggled without having a father during childhood but realised he needed him later in life. Anh travelled around Australia and contacted relatives to find where his father was. As soon as Anh heard his fathers voice again he new he could ignore him anymore. “…….I went out to my car, drove up the road to the pay phone, got out the fading shop-a-docket that had been in my wallet for two years and dialled the number. ‘Hello’, a raspy voice answered. I recognised the voice straight away.

‘Dad, its Anh’

‘Anh…..hello, son.’
‘What’s your address?’

Within two minutes I was in the car driving to Melbourne.” (pg 149-150) This shows that Anh had forgiven his father for what he did in the past and was ready to rebuild their relationship. The event where Anh forgives his father shows a positive character trait.

Anh grew up with a good influence of people and their positive character traits. This reflected in Anh’s personality. The kindness of his mother, the bravery of his father, the generosity from the nuns and Anh’s ability to forgive. These are all good examples of positive character traits, as the people who have demonstrated them are all close to him and have taught him a lesson. Anh and his family are thankful to be alive and in such a happy place. All these experiences have made Anh into the person he is today.


The Happiest Refugee [ pages 45, 8, 28, 149-150 ] (12/6/2011, 13/6/2011)

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