Refugeeism, Survivor Guilt and Ghost Writing: An Introspection into “Black Eyed Women”

1Meenu Thankachan, Dr P. P. Vijayalakshmi


Refugee crisis has turned into a matter of global concern. Migration studies also focuses on the writings of refugees and their displacement, traumatic experiences, rootlessness, persecution and isolation on a large scale. Survivor guilt is a crucial issue prevalent among refugees of all nations. It is a mental condition forcing a victim (refugee) to believe that they are responsible for surviving a traumatic event while others failed to do so. This tendency is observed among the survivors of holocausts, airplane crash survivors, rape victims and war veterans. Viet Thanh Nguyen is a prolific Vietnamese American writer whose life was filled with the processes and trauma of refugeeism and immigration during the Vietnam War. “Black Eyed Women” can be viewed as a ghost narrative about memory, trauma, migration and resilience which appeared first in “Epoch” and then as part of his collection The Refugees. The Vietnamese American woman protagonist who mirrors the author is a ghost writer haunted by survivor’s guilt. The paper entitled reflects on the real ghosts in turn revealing the ghost of the protagonist’s own refugee past and the trauma of her displacement and self-guilt. The refugee crisis becomes very much real when her brother’s ghost informs her of her real condition “You died too… You just don’t know it” (Nguyen 2017). The theme of her repressed silence works throughout the story which is broken by the nameless protagonist through the medium of her writing. The paper tries to analyse the multi-faceted migratory issues through the medium of the author’s ghost writings.


refugeeism, migration, survivor guilt, displacement, ghost writing

Paper Details
IssueIssue 10