I. Introduction to the plot
1) The popular title of this poem is “Kim Van Kieu.”How are the three described? What impressions are we to have of them?Kieu
2) Early on we learn there is something unusual about Kieu, when the three
friends encounter a humble and neglected grave. What story is told about Dam
Tien (Dahm Tee-en), and how does Kieu react?
3) Back in her room, Kieu is visited by the spirit of Dam Tien. What does
she learn about her future, and how does she react?
4) The romance between Kim and Kieu blossoms quickly. What does each respond
to in the other?
5) Then they find themselves alone in his house. What happens, and what
doesn’t happen? How does she fend off his advances?
II. Catastrophe strikes
6) Why does Kieu let herself be sold in matrimony to Scholar Ma (Mah)? How
does she interpret her decision? Does she consider herself virtuous? What does
she ask of her sister?
7) Suicide is a recurrent temptation for Kieu. Why does she think of killing
herself, and what dissuades her?
III. Into prostitution
8) One feature of Nguyen Du’s poetry is his use of nature imagery. List some
9) How does Kieu respond to her new surroundings, and what is expected of her? Will such an extreme step help resolve the fate Dam Tien said lay in store for her?
V. A brief retreat, then a return to the world of action
10) Buddhism describes earthly life as a wheel of recurring sorrows. How is
this reflected in the plot? What does Kieu want, and why isn’t she allowed to
11) Yet another man enters Kieu’s life. Who is Tu Hai (tyu [u with an
umlaut] hi)? What about him captures her heart?
12) Justice, or what Kieu calls “sweet revenge” is meted out to
those who exploited Kieu. Do they each get what they deserve? Who is executed
and who is not? Why?
13) After five years of peace, Tu Hai is captured and executed. Whose fault?
VI. Kieu finally finds peace
14) The story is brought full circle by catching us up on Kim’s first lover.
What happened to Kim?
15) Kim woos Kieu. How does he persuade her to marry him? (3060-3240)
16) The poet offers his own conclusion. How are we supposed to live our