Linh explains he control the Malaysian authorities exert on the refugees when they arrive at Jangaroon. Linh has sympathy for the Malaysian government in wanting to ‘stop us…taking us permanent residence, ‘and understands that fear motivates their control. Linh supports this idea of control by referring to their habitat as a ‘battery house’. The community of refugees weren’t allowed to leave the island without permission. Linh’s simile is used to explain to the reader that control is motivated by fear and leads to isolation. Third person narration explores Linh’s isolation when she climbs a tree ‘but for now, the whole world is contained’. The use of memory is used to explore ‘how she lay with her mother’. These memories of the past are happy ones, as she is constantly reminded of her loss and her mother’s sacrifice with the pirates in the present. ‘The reality that awaits her on the ground’ is sad reminders of her loss and isolation.
Vivid description is used to explain the plight of Phuong and Ling who lost their mother. Phuong seeks out Cang because both youths feel isolated and marginalised. In Only the Heart, we can see that Phuong feels grief after she has lost her parents, and neither does Cang. Phuong joins the gang, but ‘she always stood there on the edges of the group, part of it yet separate’. She ‘mostly looked at Cang…extension of him’. This indicates that she likes to be around Cang, and feels intimate and has a close relationship with him. During the fire, Cang sacrifices himself for Phuong when he goes back inside to rescue her. “There’s not a single mark on her face. He must have had her pressed to his chest all the way”. This quote indicates how much he cherished Phuong, and how much he loved her. .