“There is such hate and rage inside me now that I know I have the power to destroy and kill. ” Do you think Loung’s hate and rage made her strong in the face of adversity? Discuss. The novel, First They Killed My Father, written by and told from the perspective of Loung Ung, is a chilling tale of a disturbed childhood, where the impact and influence of the communist government, the Khmer Rouge, fuels the anger and perpetual loathing of the regime which she claims to be the sole reason of the separation of her family, in addition to her many problems that she now faces.
Although she is positioned into a state of danger and vulnerability, Loung continues to feed her images of spite and anger with the cruel intentions of the Khmer Rouge, defining her purpose of survival and hope. When Loung is initially relocated from the streets of Phnom Penh to the harsh conditions of Krang Troup, she is sitting on the fence as to which mindset she wishes to embrace, whether it be to rebel against the idea and the concept of the communist regime, or to accept that this change in lifestyle is potentially a turn for the better.
She ends up going with her father’s conscience, for he is a figure whom she both admires and respects with great reverence. “At five, I am oblivious to the events of war, yet I know Pa to be brilliant, and therefore he must be right. ” Loung comes across a clever but somehow curious character, always inquisitive in regards to her surroundings and her fellow residents.
As the family ventures further into this new manner of living, Loung begins to sense that something is wrong, and starts to become opinionated on the topic of the Khmer Rouge, as she learns more about their background and what they intend to do. It all appears to be such a dramatic change from her first environment to the next, all in one rough transition. “Yesterday I was playing hopscotch with my friends. Today we are running from soldiers with guns. This sequence of events is one that would be deemed too intense for a 5 year old child, let alone any individual, no matter what obscenities they have been exposed to prior to those events. The family is then moved yet again, with Loung’s surroundings changing and proving to be a lot more sinister and menacing than her previous inhabitance. The Ung family are reduced to the consumption of rabbits and birds, along with various bugs, which at a first glance be considered harmful or even fatal to the one who eats it.
Her rage heightens against the Khmer Rouge, after Keav is taken away to a camp where she suffers malnutrition and poor care, resulting in her death shortly after she was sent there. She is not angered at her death, but saddened, “I cup my hands over my mouth and scream out in pain over the cruel death of my sister. ” Then matters begin to take a detrimental downturn concerning the family, when Pa is asked to assist the soldiers with a task, and it seems blatant to Pa that his time in hiding is now up, for “… is chest inflates and exhales deeply, and his jaw is square as he clenches his teeth. ” He then leaves and the family then assumes the worst, without directly mentioning it to one another. Loung can sense what is going to become of Pa, and it is in this climax-like area of the story where she initiates the ultimate desire to destroy Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, for she goes on later to say, “the water washes away the dirt, but it will never put out the fire of hate that I have for the Khmer Rouge. It sounds absurd at this point in time, but it seems perceptible that Loung would perhaps not have survived the period of time under the communist rule if they did not proceed to executing Pa, for this was the event in which she left the innocence of her childhood behind her and was forcefully shunted into a world of lies, terror, sadness and anger. This twisted turn of events both confuses and scares Loung, because she is so nervous about her wellbeing and that of her family.
She then witnesses Ma and Geak being taken away from her, and when Loung later assumes that Ma must have been executed, she has a vision of how it occurs. This scene that plays in her head is one that is both disturbing and poignant. This enrages her to a point of extremity, “Someday, I will kill them all. My hatred for them is boundless. ” Loung continues to wonder at how the cruel and bitter hatred of the regime goes unchecked. Later, when she is moved to another residence, to live with another family, a Youn soldier tries to rape Loung, and she is horrified and disgusted at this prospect. I hate you… Die! ” she screams at the soldier before she escapes his clutches. She sprints away from him and refuses to let go of the secret of the dreadful few moments that she took part in. This shows that Loung initially had hatred for the Khmer Rouge soldiers, but now she hates all that play a part in the war that made her life hell. Her chance finally comes later in the story when a Khmer Rouge soldier is captured, and Loung is excited, seething with rage and eager to see this man punished slowly, cruelly, brutally.
One of the citizens strikes him hard on the back of the head, more than twice, and drives a knife into his stomach, causing intense pain to him, as he twitches and writhes in the chair he is bound to. After this, Loung finally begins to realize that the punishment and death of the soldiers would not steal the sadness and fury of losing her family away from her. She refers to the soldier after she learns from this experience, “His death will not bring any of them back. ” She feels a slight remorse, and is ready to ‘soldier’ on with her life, with or without the help of her family.
In the light of these horrific events, we learn here that the story of immense perseverance and determination is one that will ultimately triumph, for Loung her initial rage towards the soldiers and the head of the government acts as a stimulant for all her hopes of survival, in which they inevitably prove encouraging to her mindset to keep going, even in the pressure of not being able to endure much more from anyone, not even herself. Loung is a powerful character, who shows that giving up is never the pertinent thing to do, especially when the lives of others have a certain amount of responsibility leaning on your shoulders.