JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 270
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God chose her by ensuring her survival-has played an important role in
her story. "But God saved my life and gave me faith and hope" (1).14 In
an interview featured in the film, Kim is quoted about the pain of her
scars: "'They are like a knife,' she says smiling. 'They feel like they are
cutting me.'" But she also adds, pointing to divine Providence: "God used
me that day ... my feet were not burned, and so I could run out and be there
for that photo" (Schultz).
Even before her own use of Christian discourse, before the second
photograph was taken, casting her in the Madonna role, antiwar artists
incorporated Kim's photograph into Christian iconography. In Jerry
Kearns's Madonna and Child (1986), the artist superimposes the outlines
of Kim's torso on Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe (part of his Death in
America series), as though the girl's scream were emerging from Marilyn's
brow.'5 In And Juan Sanchez's painting, It Is Beautiful to Love the World
with Eyes Not Born (1987), the photograph is torn and fragmented, the
image of Kim Phuc is separated-the two halves kept apart by a snapshot
of smiling children in what appears to be a hospital in Nicaragua; a
colorful, sweet-faced Madonna holding a fully clothed little Christ child
appears above the children; below Sanchez has painted a crucifix and the
stigmata-marked hands of Christ.16
Images of Kim associated with war and atrocity continue to appear in
the prolonged aftermath of the Vietnam war as it becomes a cautionary
chapter in American history. Judy Chicago incorporates the image of Kim
into her Holocaust Project (1985-1992), as a figure of unjust suffering;
this importation can be seen as part of an American narrative of traumatic
history in the twentieth century, which connects through the thread of the
wounded innocents, genocide, and catastrophe: the Holocaust, the Viet-
nam War, and September 11. A similar use of the girl on fire appeared in
a graphic novel by cartoonist, Peter Kuper. The narrative about the Gulf
war is called "Bombs Away" (1991), and the drawing looks very much
like Judy Chicago's little silhouetted figure. In both cases, the tiny human
body in flight is a vulnerable target, overwhelmed by nightmarish
In her testimony as a survivor, Kim speaks for peace. The caption
below the new photograph of Kim as mother reads: "I know my picture
did something to help stop the war. My son's Vietnamese name, Huan,
means 'prospects.' I have to show him what happened to his mom, to her
country, and that there should never be war again" (Life Special 44). The
McNally photograph won a World Press award. Both photographs of Kim
carry this message: never again. They warn, they admonish. This notion
Here’s what’s next.
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/16/: accessed February 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .