MargueriteDuras was born in April 1914 and was named Marguerite Donnadieu. Shewas born in Gia-Dinh close to Saigon. Her family lives in poverty andis an unhappy lot. Her father got sick and left for France where helater died. Miss Duras has two brothers. She fears the older andloves the younger one. Her feelings about her mother are mixed. Shepities, loves and dislikes her. The book is set in Saigon, and it isa reflection of Duras’s real life. During her adolescent years, shehad an emotional encounter with a Chinese man that had consequencesin her life. At the time of meeting the Chinese man, she was ravagedand emotionally dead. Her feelings were intense and she got initiatedinto sexual love as a high school student at the age of 15 and ahalf. Her Chinese lover picked her and drove with her in hislimousine to his apartment where he initiated her into sexual love.After that first encounter, they had more love making sessions almostdaily.
Althoughshe continues seeing the Chinese man, Duras is not happy about therelationship. She actually describesthe affair, her disgrace. Herfamily is aware of the relationship but they are reserved about it.Her rich lover takes the whole family out for dinner at times. Duringsuch moments, her two brothers maintain their silence in the presenceof her lovers. It seems they feel inferior in his presence and do notspeak or even look at him. The lover notices their discomfort andtries to break the ice by telling about his time in Paris. He triesthis during the first meetings but it does not help.
Despitethe reservations of her brothers, the love affair continued. Duras isdefiant and a woman who wants to seek her own way. During her time,it was not common to find relationships between a European and anAsian. Being involved in such a relationship can only be labeled asrebellious. She is ready to break away from what is expected by therest of the society. At the age of 15, she was too young to beinvolved in any affair, but she went ahead to get what her heartwanted. She is also daring as she decides to find how to get awayfrom her abusive mother. She decides to do this by changing the wayshe dresses. She replaces her clothes and starts wearing a masculinefedora hat. She replaces feminine shoes with gold lame shoes. Thistrick helps her separate from her mother who keeps on abusing her.
Theaffair with the Chinese man continued for some time until she leftfor France where she continued with her education. It is easy to seethat the love between the two was genuine and would have continuedwere it not for the intervention of the Chinese lover’s father whodid not approve of the relationship. After the breakup, she went backto her home country and picked up her life again. This shows thatDuras is a resilient woman who is able to rise above hercircumstances and find the path of her destiny. Considering thesituation in her family, Duras has no option that to seek a path toher destiny. Without the love and support of her family, she has tomake it by herself in the world.