Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again

Section 1: 1975: Year of the Cat – Saigon is Gone (pgs. 1–69)

  1. Chide: to scold or rebuke
  2. Flaunt: to display something in plain view, especially to provoke envy or admiration or to show defiance
  3. Flecked: a very small patch of color or light; a small particle or speck of something
  4. Gaunt: a person of lean or haggard appearance; a building or place of grim or desolate in appearance
  5. Horde: a large group of people; an army or tribe of nomadic warriors
  6. Linger: to stay in a place longer than necessary, typically because of a reluctance to leave
Comprehension Questions
  1. Ha says that Tet celebrates both the New Year and everyone’s birthday. (pg. 2)
  2. The name Ha Na means River Horse. (pg. 5)
  3. As soon as the chant ends, Mother locks away Father’s picture because she cannot bear to look into Father’s forever young eyes. (pg. 13)
  4. With the money that she save at the open market, Ha Na buys a pouch of toasted coconut, one sugary fried dough, and two crunchy bean cookies. (pg. 20)
  5. Ha Na knows that Father loved stewed eels, pate chaud pastries and his children; but hated the afternoon sun, the color brown and cold rice. (pg. 22)
  6. Mother and Ha Na go to President Thieu’s ceremony for comforting war wives because after listening to the presidents continual talking each family receives 5 kilos of sugar, 10 kilos of rice, and a small jug of vegetable rice. (pg. 32)
  7. A siren screams during Miss Xinh’s lesson on President Ford. (pg. 38)
  8. Brother Khoi tells Ha that they must not leave no matter what mother says because he still hopes that their father might return. Also, a chick hatches and he doesn’t want to leave it. (pg. 44, 46)
  9. The one thing that Ha chooses for her pack is a doll that has been chewed by mice leaving the doll with scars, which is why Ha loves her even more. (pg. 55)
  10. Brother Vu wants to cut down Ha’s papaya tree so that the Communists won’t have it. (pg. 60)
  11. At the port Ha’s family finds out that there is no such thing as a secret as many people are at the port in hope that they will get onto the navy ships. (pg. 61)
  12. All the lights at the port are off so that they won’t be a target for the bombs that are being dropped. (pg. 66)

Section 2: Floating – Laugh Back (pgs. 73–148)

  1. Contort: to twist or bend outside of its normal shape
  2. Extend: to make longer or wider
  3. Flee: to run away from a place or situation of danger
  4. Putrid: (of organic matter) decaying or rotting and emitting a foul smell
  5. Refugee: a person who has had to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster
  6. Translate: to express the sense of words or text in another language
Comprehension Questions
  1. The refugees are told to only sip water when they must so that their bodies can stop needing. (pg. 73
  2. When Ha takes her first hot bite of freshly cooked rice she imagines the taste of ripe papaya even though they are nothing alike. (pg. 78)
  3. As soon as the white bundle sinks into the sea Ha regrets throwing it in because the bundle held her doll, which she threw away to support Khoi and the loss of his chick. (pg. 86)
  4. Ha likes the commander so much because in his uniform he looks like her father. (pg. 91)
  5. Ha cannot fall asleep unless she twists the purple stone ring on her mother’s finger. (pg. 103)
  6. By the time mother is done staring, blinking, and wiping away tears, the family has a sponsor in Alabama. (pg. 110)
  7. In order to see the sun and moon out of the too-high window, Ha has to stand on a a chair that she places on top of the table. (pg. 116)
  8. What Ha loves best about their house on Princess Anne Road is the lotus pod shower, which massages her scalp like the monsoons. (pg. 126)
  9. The cowboy explains that horses in America go neigh, neigh, neigh, not hee, hee, hee as in Vietnam. (pg. 134)
  10. When Ha looks at all the different children in class she realizes that she is unique in that she is the only one with straight, black hair and olive skin. (pg. 142)
  11. Ha needs to understand what Pink Boy says so that in the future she will be able to laugh back at him one day. (pg. 148)

Section 3: Quiet Inside – Mother’s Response (pgs. 149–199)

  1. Matted: a tangled thick mass especially of hair or fur
  2. Nudge: to prod someone, gently, typically with one’s elbow, in order to draw their attention to something
  3. Persuade: to cause someone to do something through reasoning or argument
  4. Retrieve: to get something or bring something back; to regain possession of
  5. Solitude: the state or situation of being alone
  6. Tremble: to shake involuntarily, typically as a result of anxiety, excitement, or frailty
Comprehension Questions
  1. Ha and Brother Vu turn silver when the moonlight hits them. (pg. 151)
  2. Halfway down the block, away from mother’s eyes, Ha hears the clink clank of Brother Khoi’s bicycle. (pg. 154)
  3. Three of Ha’s wishes are that her mother wouldn’t hide her bleeding fingers; that English could be learned without so many rules; that she was still smart. (pg. 158, 159)
  4. After the brick is thrown through the window Mother decides that they must meet their neighors. (pg. 163)
  5. The older woman who lives in the house on the left is a retired teacher called Mrs. Washington. (pg. 165)
  6. When Mrs. Washington offers to tutor the family, Ha is afraid to tell her how much help she needs. (pg. 165)
  7. Mother’s signal for solitude to chant is to tap her nails on the dining table. (pg. 173)
  8. Mother’s favorite gift from their cowboy is a live catfish. (pg. 178)
  9. When Ha thinks of the noisy room full of mouths chewing and laughing, dragonflies do somersaults in her stomach. (pg. 181)
  10. In her journal Ha marks October 14 as Most Relieved Day, April 30 as Saigon Is Gone Day and September 2 as Longest Day Ever. (pg. 185)
  11. The three types of people that show up for Brother Vu’s Bruce Lee lessons are the eager boys, giggly girls and curious neighbors. (pg. 192, 193)

Section 4:MiSSSisss WaSShington’s Response – 1976:Year of the Dragon (pgs. 200-260)

  1. Clench: to close fingers, hands into a tight ball, especially when feeling extreme anger
  2. Hoist: to raise something by means of ropes and pulleys
  3. Intermingle: to mix or mingle something together
  4. Writhe: to make continual twisting, squirming movements or contortions of the body
  5. Waver: to shake with a quivering motion; to be undecided between two opinions
  6. Retreat: to move back or withdraw
Comprehension Questions
  1. MiSSSiss WaSShington tells Ha to take home the book of photographs of Vietnam. (pg. 201, 202)
  2. While Brother Quang translates, Pink Boy’s eyes tell Ha that he hates her even more than he did before the meeting with the principal. (pg. 204)
  3. When Ha runs from Pink Boy and his friends, she turns right where the “purple flowers curve like baby moons over butterfly bushes.” (pg. 206)
  4. Mother tells Ha that sometimes she must fight, but that she should not fight with her fists. (pg. 216)
  5. Pink Boy manages to convince his sixth-grade cousin to beat up Ha when they return to school on the following Monday. (pg. 221)
  6. For Christmas Ha receives from the cowboy a coat and from MiSSSisss WaSShington something orange and dried, papaya. (pg. 230-232)
  7. After she wakes and heads toward the trash can Ha finds a plate of gooey strips of papaya on the dining room table. (pg. 234)
  8. The only new things Ha has after Christmas break are the coat and a hand me down dress still wrapped in plastic. (pg. 243)
  9. Ha is embarrassed that she does not have a gift to give Pem, so Mother gives Ha a tin of flower seeds that she had planned to give her at Tet. (pg. 246)
  10. After her long chant Mother says, “Your father is truly gone.” (pg. 250)
  11. After the ceremony for her father, Ha tells MiSSSisss WaSShington three things, that her father is at peace; that she would like to plant Vietnamese flowers in her backyard; that Tet is coming and luck starts over every New Year. (pg. 254)