Literature, Language, and Life

Time-Shift Through Lodge’s Main Points and Paradise of the Blind (Final)

Lodge’s main points on time-shift and Paradise of the Blind interrelate, for the reason that many of Lodge’s views are apparent throughout Hang’s “coming of age” story. First, Lodge gives an excellent example of the Odyssey, which can be perceived as comparable to Paradise of the Blind. Moreover, the Odyssey begins in the midst of the main character’s story and later shifts to his early life similar to how Paradise of the Blind begins in the present but shifts to the past throughout the novel (Lodge 75). Second, time-shift allows the reader to extract examples of irony within sections of the text (Lodge 75). Furthermore, this connects to the many instances of irony throughout the time-shift in the novel, where specific events link to both the past and the present. Third, these connections are portrayed throughout the novel as flashbacks from Hang’s past between the past and the present (Lodge 75).

In addition, it is also frequently presented in Hang’s stream of consciousness, or as a reminiscence of her childhood and young adulthood (Lodge 77). In Paradise of the Blind, the “coming of age” story begins in the 1980s following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The very first chapter begins on a Sunday morning with the news of Hang’s seemingly ill uncle, which is delivered to the already ill Hang. Hang then makes the decision of staying at home, but the time suddenly shifts to a flashback of her mother’s home. Still, the novel quickly switches to the present, where Hang does not wish to visit her “sick” uncle, but then the passage skips a day later and suddenly she’s on a train to visit him. This is strange, but perhaps the author wishes for the reader to notice the irony of her decision. Following boarding the train, Hang has a series of flashbacks from her mother’s house and marriage to her father, and even from the official end of the war. Succeeding more flashbacks from her grandmother’s past, Hang recalls her mother’s growing madness regarding the husband she lost at the time of Hang’s birth.

Another evident instance of irony through time-shift in chapter two is when Hang’s mother is declared by her annoyed brother as ill with kidney disease but suddenly appears six months later completely healthy. Ironically, the story later refers to Hang’s memory of when her and her mother are visited by Hang’s uncle in chapter six, who suggests that her mother get a job at the factory so that she wouldn’t spoil his reputation. The last and most major shift is in chapter eleven, which involves Aunt Tam’s death, and it may be true that Aunt Tam only cared that Hang fulfilled the bloodline without considering Hang’s personal opinions. Her funeral shifts from sadness and despair to when Hang suddenly decides to sell Aunt Tam’s house, where she has finally accepted reality and has fulfilled her “coming of age”. According to these examples of time-shift regarding the role of women at the time, it can be concluded that male influence was particularly powerful, even though it destroyed the relationship between Hang and her family. Finally, according to Lodge’s main points on time-shift and Paradise of the Blind, it can be interpreted that Hang shifts through her “coming of age” and experiencing flashbacks until the end of her story, in which she learns to face reality and defy her family bonds by selling her aunt’s home.

 

 

 

Symbolism in “Paradise of the Blind” Majed S

Lodge defines symbolism as a literary feature that introduces an object that suggests another, different object and is usually characterized as a shimmering surface of suggested meanings without a clear given meaning. Symbolism is usually generated through the use of metonymy and synecdoche, both figures of speech that can be seen in the book “Paradise of the Blind”.

Metonymy is a figure of speech that substitutes a name of an object for that of the thing meant, for example, suit for business executive or track for horse racing. This figure of speech can be seen in “Paradise of the Blind”, with the use of the word “family”. In many instances of the novel, the word “family” is usually followed by talk of hard work, obedience, or respect. The word “family” may be a substitute for the word “culture”. Vietnamese culture is usually associated with obedience to the eldest man of the house and immense work for the heir of the family line. This is seen in the line “As long as these hands work, there will always be money. Don’t worry. I know how to get by.” Aunt Tam’s promise of support and dedication to Hang signifies the importance of the heir of the family to Vietnamese culture. Aunt Tam was willing to sacrifice her money, time, and energy just to please and spoil Hang. Since Hang was Aunt Tam’s last living heir, she was willing to sacrifice herself for Hang. The same is shown by Hang’s mom, Que, with her devout devotion to Uncle Chinh’s children, as they are the only male heirs of her family.

Synecdoche, on the other hand, is a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent a whole. The use of synecdoche is seen throughout the novel, the first of which is the character of the uncle, Chinh. Uncle Chinh is portrayed as a strict and ruthless member of the Communist Party, tied to the rules of the Communist Party and the strictness of the Vietnamese culture. He symbolizes the harsh Communist Party, a technique Duong Thu Huong, the author, used to expose the brutality of the Communist Party. However, Uncle Chinh was not the only character subject to synecdoche. Hang symbolizes the feminist and humanitarian views of the author, who was expelled from the Communist Party in Vietnam because of these views. Being a prominent spokeswoman of feminist and human rights, the author was able to incorporate those ideas and thoughts in the character of Hang, portraying her as a strong independent woman, especially towards the end of the book.

Through the use of symbolism, the author was able to incorporate ideas of feminism and human rights, without explicitly saying so. The same can be said about the exposure of the harshness of the Communist Party in Vietnam, and the strictness of the Vietnamese culture. This may have been a factor in the decision of the Vietnamese government to ban the novel in Vietnam.

Repetition: Lodge’s ideas applied in Paradise of the Blind.

According to lodge it said to focus on repetition of words and how they can repeat multiple times in short paragraphs. Where he listed two types of words displayed in the novel. Lexical words such as dark, silent, wind was the first type. And the second type was the grammatical words like and, I. I decided to focus on three key points in repetition that held a significant role in the novel. They are memories/incidents, food, and the cripple’s song.

  • There are a few characters in the novel that will help you understand my blog:
  • Main Character: Hang
  • Que: Hang’s Mother
  • Chinh: Hangs uncle
  • Aunt Tam: Hangs aunt (from father side)

Food is something that appears frequently in the novel and we can see it from the first chapter where it has a significant meaning and that it’s a form of human expressions it also conveys the mean of characters’ emotions. An example would be Que working as a street vendor where it quotes “The sound of a pestle crushing crabs for a noodle soup, steam rising from potatoes, the crackling of young rice being roasted to make grilled sticky rice, the smell of Che pudding for the full moon festival each month. Life is all around her, but it was a life that belonged to others” (page 20) Que compares the sounds of life to the sounds of food. It shows her separation from other people due to her lowered financial status. Another example would be Hang and Que visiting her Aunt, Tams exaggerated amounts of food and minor details like the fact that she has multiple bottles and flavors of alcohol to choose from is important as it sheds light on an important character trait, which is her determination and goal of becoming rich. The main character Hang often remembers flashbacks from her past that soon becomes a routine for the reader to get used to. Since the whole novel is based on her point of view. This type of repetition is significant because it relates to feminism. In addition to the narrator trying to make sense of her life, where she talk to herself throughout the novel, which shows some type of internal conflict. An example would be Hang stating “I miss home, something terrible” (page 14) also “I felt chocked with anger” (page 237) Both of these quotes convey to the reader a type of self-recognition of reality. Repetition of the cripple’s song is unique due to its bizarre singer a crippled man. It is significant because it shows Hangs character development throughout the novel. The song goes like this “Hail autumn and its procession of dead leaves, the rows of barren poplars stand silent on the hillside.” (page 111) In the beginning Hang didn’t understand the song lyrics, however later in the novel she develops a perception about it which is leading an unfulfilled life. Where she quotes “you survived life here, but you never really lived it.” (page 235) The song also creates a similar mood of Vietnam specifically the mood in Hanoi, the words dead, barren, and silent convey the lifelessness and oddness in the city. Duong Thu Huong portrayed Hang waking up from a disillusioned  world she’s been living in, and a society that define its norms on females, however she breaks from these chains put on her, and thats how writer shows Feminism at its finest.

-Fatmah Alamoudi

Time-Shift Through Lodge’s Main Points and Paradise of the Blind (Draft)

Lodge’s main points on time-shift and Paradise of the Blind interrelate, for the reason that many of Lodge’s are apparent throughout Hang’s “coming of age” story. Furthermore, the first point found on page seventy-five gives an excellent example of the Odyssey, which can be perceived as similar to Paradise of the Blind. Moreover, similar to how the Odyssey begins in the midst of the main character’s story and later shifts to his early life, Paradise of the Blind begins in the present but shifts to the past throughout the novel. The second point found on page seventy-five connects to the many instances of irony throughout the time-shift in the novel, whereas specific events linked to both the past and the present. Specifically, these connections were portrayed throughout the novel as flashbacks from Hang’s past between the past and the present.

Third and in accordance with page seventy-seven, it is also frequently presented in Hang’s stream of consciousness, or as a reminiscence of her childhood and young adulthood. In Paradise of the Blind, the “coming of age” story begins in the 1980s following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The very first chapter begins on a Sunday morning with the news of Hang’s seemingly ill uncle, which is delivered to the already ill Hang. Hang then makes the decision of staying at home, but the time suddenly shifts to a flashback of her mother’s home. Still, the novel quickly switches to the present, where Hang does not wish to visit her “sick” uncle, but then the passage skips a day later and suddenly she’s on a train to visit him. This is strange, but perhaps the author wishes for the reader to notice the irony of her decision. Following boarding the train, Hang has a series of flashbacks from her mother’s house and marriage to her father, and even from the official end of the war. Succeeding more flashbacks from her grandmother’s past, Hang recalls her mother’s growing madness regarding the husband she lost at the time of Hang’s birth.

Another evident instance of irony through time-shift in chapter two is when Hang’s mother is declared by her annoyed brother as ill with kidney disease but suddenly appears six months later completely healthy. Ironically, the story later refers to Hang’s memory of when both her and her mother are visited by Hang’s uncle in chapter six, who suggests that her mother get a job at the factory so that she wouldn’t spoil his reputation. The last and most major shift in my opinion is in chapter eleven, which involves Aunt Tam’s death, and I believe that Aunt Tam only cared that Hang fulfilled the bloodline and didn’t really care for Hang’s opinions. Her funeral shifts from sadness and despair to when Hang suddenly decides to sell Aunt Tam’s house, where she has finally accepted reality and has fulfilled her “coming of age”. According to these examples of time-shift regarding the role of women at the time, it can be concluded that male influence was particularly powerful, even though it destroyed the relationship between Hang and her family. Finally, according to Lodge’s main points on time-shift and Paradise of the Blind, it can be interpreted that Hang shifts through her “coming of age” and experiencing flashbacks until the end of her story, in which she learns to face reality and defy her family bonds by selling her aunt’s home.

Defamiliarization in Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong

Defamiliarization is defined by Lodge to be “defining a common known term or idea in a way that seems unknown and new”. The essential purpose of this method is to overcome the deadening effect of habit and to freshen the concept. When the reader is too familiar to a concept, he/she skims past it, missing it’s importance. Furthermore, Lodge states that defamiliarization allows the reader to see the traits and characteristics of the characters. In Paradise of the Blind, Hang’s character is enhanced when the author uses defamiliarization. Defamiliarization is also explained by Lodge as not only possibly explaining one concept, but creating a transition into another concept.

Huong provided the reader with many examples of defamiliarization for the reader to make connections to the protagonist, Hang, and to understand the protagonist’s similarities to Huong. Huong does so in two main parts of the book, and without these examples of defamiliarization a large portion of the meaning would be lost. In the first example, Huong defamiliarizes the concept of land reform and allows the reader to understand the problems that had come with land reform. Furthermore, Huong defamiliarizes the misunderstandings that occurred when people were considered peasants. This occurs in the conversation between  Hang’s uncle and her mother. Through this conversation we understand not only the socio-economical class that Hang’s family is put into by society. We also further understand the political perspective of people who were similar to Hang’s family at that time. Under this umbrella of confusion, Hang’s mother states that the rich had never shown any evil and sinister characteristics. (Huong, Duong 22-23)

The second major example of defamiliarization is in the end of the book when Hang begins self analyzing what had occurred and what is to come in the future. She begins picturing herself in a heaven with “comets extinguishing themselves” (Huong, Duong 258). Huong, the author, further defamiliarizes the concept of reaching a brighter more progressive future. Hang, the protagonist, begins to have this personal conflict and begins to show traits found in Huong. Hang is questioning the past and begins recalling her memories. She states, “I can’t squander my life tendinding these faded flowers….The legacy of past crimes”. Hang wishes that she could just cover up the evils of the past with “flowers”. Huong creates a connection between the grave of a dead loved one covered with flowers to shadowing the crimes that had been committed. This connection enhanced the defamiliarization, allowing us to understand Hang as a character.

The use of defamiliarization by Huong enhances not only the understanding in regards to the plot of the book, but the characteristics of Hang as a character. Huong provides the reader with two strong examples that allow the reader to see how influential defamiliarization is when political concepts are being discussed.

Interior Monologue, as described by Lodge, in Paradise of the Blind -Bijan A [FINAL]

Interior Monologue is a form of first person narration that focuses on the character’s thoughts to create a sense of intimacy between the reader and the protagonist. When used poorly, interior monologue can easily slow the pace of a novel and fill the texts with useless information. This is why interior monologue is paired with a variety of styles and devices to create a unique and interesting style that enhances the journey of the reader.

In the sample work given, Lodge shows us a work by the author (James Joyce), in which he introduces to the characters not by telling the reader about them but by sharing their inner thoughts (pg. 47).  The process introducing ideas that everybody knows by describing them first and then giving them a name, to keep the audience in the dark and lead them on the same journey of discovery as the character, is called defamiliarization. It is a useful tool that makes the novel more immersive.

Defamiliarization was expertly used by the author of Paradise of the Blind, by flashing back to the childhood of protagonist and then introducing the reader to common place ideas as the protagonist was. She did this with some simple items, like the rice cakes or basic manners, but she also does it incredibly well, in showing more complex, adult ideas, like the shaming of the protagonists mother,  The flashbacks put us in the shoes of the character at the time of the occurrence of the events, even if they character themselves wasn’t present at the event.

Interior monologue can be woven into commonplace third person narration to create snippets of the protagonist’s mind (pg. 48-49). Pairing this with a disjointed narrative style that mimics the nature of human thought creates a flowing narrative that has a unique and distinct style that matches the complex and instinctive thought process of the human mind.

The snippets also serve to develop character, by indicating the thought process behind a character’s actions. The character refusing to open a door is an innocuous, meaningless action but when the interior monologue reveals that he refuses to do so in order to not wake his wife, his actions take on a new meaning. The provide character traits in a unique and immersive manner (pg 49).  It can also establish the background of the character, in terms of education or lifestyle. When a character struggles to name or identify a well known principle, it can establish their status as an uneducated or poor individual, because of their inability to come up with the words to describe something simple.

There are many times when the narrator retells stories that she was told as a child. Even here, the stories are clearly filtered through the mind of the character as a child, with points of confusion, strong emotion, and fear shining through otherwise normal events.  When she is told of her fathers history with the town, the emotion of a child hearing about her Mother’s suffering shines through the story’s retelling. This creates the sense of immersion in the understanding of events that stimulates being told the story as a child.

Interior Monologue is also used incredibly effectively to connect flashbacks to the present, by using seemingly random, unrelated events to trigger a memory. This mimics reality, where everyday objects can remind us of our past and our history, and it allows the reader to latch on to the thought process of the protagonist in an unparalleled manner, travelling their memories and their imaginations to enhance the narrative structure (pg. 49).

In Paradise of the Blind, no cue is given for the transition between times. Instead, the transition comes from mundane events that sometimes trigger memories of the past. The boarding of a train brings the character to return to her times abroad with her roommate, expertly identifying the types of connections that the human mind makes without wasting a single word. The interior monologue of the character essentially latches us on to her train of thought, meaning what triggers her flashback connects us to the past event as well.

Interior Monologue, as described by Lodge – Bijan A

Interior Monologue is a form of first person narration that focuses on the character’s thoughts to create a sense of intimacy between the reader and the protagonist. When used poorly, interior monologue can easily slow the pace of a novel and fill the texts with useless information. This is why interior monologue is paired with a variety of styles and devices to create a unique and interesting style that enhances the journey of the reader.

In the sample work given, Lodge shows us a work by the author (James Joyce), in which he introduces to the characters not by telling the reader about them but by sharing their inner thoughts (pg. 47).  The process introducing ideas that everybody knows by describing them first and then giving them a name, to keep the audience in the dark and lead them on the same journey of discovery as the character, is called defamiliarization. It is a useful tool that makes the novel more immersive.

Interior monologue can be woven into commonplace third person narration to create snippets of the protagonist’s mind (pg. 48-49). Pairing this with a disjointed narrative style that mimics the nature of human thought creates a flowing narrative that has a unique and distinct style that matches the complex and instinctive thought process of the human mind.

The snippets also serve to develop character, by indicating the thought process behind a character’s actions. The character refusing to open a door is an innocuous, meaningless action but when the interior monologue reveals that he refuses to do so in order to not wake his wife, his actions take on a new meaning. The provide character traits in a unique and immersive manner (pg 49).  It can also establish the background of the character, in terms of education or lifestyle. When a character struggles to name or identify a well known principle, it can establish their status as an uneducated or poor individual, because of their inability to come up with the words to describe something simple.

Interior Monologue is also used incredibly effectively to connect flashbacks to the present, by using seemingly random, unrelated events to trigger a memory. This mimics reality, where everyday objects can remind us of our past and our history, and it allows the reader to latch on to the thought process of the protagonist in an unparalleled manner, travelling their memories and their imaginations to enhance the narrative structure (pg. 49).

Interior Monologue can also be used to shift the focus of the work by shifting the focus onto a specific character, to bring their story and their struggles into the fold. It is the mark of a capable writer to show a variety of unique character styles of thought and rationale, placing the reader in the middle of each person’s thoughts and showing the development of the character by this means (pg. 50-51)

 

 

Character Names in Paradise of the Blind

Before going in on the Character names in Paradise of the Blind there are many important points that are mentioned by Lodge that could help understand character names in relation to Paradise of the Blind. One important point that Lodge mentions that leads us to the character names in Paradise of the Blind is surnames are generally perceived as arbitrary. The word surname is a hereditary name common to all family members. In Paradise of the Blind the last name Ton is a Vietnamese surname that is originated with Nguyen.

In the Vietnamese language the word Ton means priceless, in Paradise of the Blind Ton is Hangs father. Throughout the whole novel his main goal was to make sure his family and daughter were good no matter what it took. Which shows why the word priceless is defined in terms of his name, taking care of his family is so precious that it is priceless and its value cannot be determined.

Hang, the main character, daughter of Ton and Que represents the meaning of moon which is referring to darkness. Que, the mother of Hang, her name in Vietnamese means precious and valuable. In my perspective this shows the relationship between Que and her daughter. Que values the relationship between her daughter and realizes how precious she is as well as teaching her the morals in the Vietnamese Culture.

Uncle Chinch and his wife were both Communists party officials. One thing that had stood out was the definition of his name and what had occurred in the novel in his situation. The word Chinh means righteousness, and throughout the novel he had clear intentions of doing the right thing but he actually wasn’t.

In conclusion the author,  Duong Thu Huong had chose each character with a specific meaning and linked it to their actions in the story and how they represent themselves. Each character has their own story and background which helps us understand the true meaning of the Vietnamese word itself. One important point that was mentioned by Lodge that concludes what i had mentioned is, “naming of characters are an important part of creating them”.

Danya Yaghmour

 

The Hero’s Journey

Lodge’s chapter on The Hero’s Journey identifies a universal narrative present within various types of literature. This narrative, known as The Hero’s Journey or the Hero Myth, is a story, that varies in every language and culture, and has been retold continuously for centuries. The popularity of the hero myth is due to the origin of this narrative: the human story. Each and every person has questioned their purpose in this world. In the Hero’s Journey, the character known as The Hero must go on an epic adventure in favor of their people.

In Duong Thu Huong’s book, Paradise of the Blind, the Hero’s Journey is evident but very hard to identify. typical follows the Hero’s Journey, but it’s very tricky to understand how it may be so. It is obvious that Hang takes the role of the Hero, but her journey is not a simple train ride to Moscow. Her journey is told through her memories that go all the way back to before her own birth.

Below is the order in which a hero myth must go; there are twelve stages. Each stage is identified then elaborated by the specific segment from Paradise of the Blind:

The Ordinary World:

The ordinary world is the first stage of the Hero’s Journey. Here, the Hero is in a state of ignorance or innocence, or has is uncomfortable with the world around them. In most stories following the Hero’s Journey, The ordinary world is presented in is portrayed clearly at the beginning of the first chapter, but in Paradise of the Blind, the Hero Hang begins her journey in the ordinary world with recollections of the past. She speaks of her life as a little girl back in Vietnam. She was a fatherless child, and did not show much interest in knowing where he was. It was not until she was being taunted by her mother’s friend that her interest in her father sparked. She became curious and wanted to learn more about him. It was at the age of ten that Hang learned of her father, but learning it led to changes she could not control.

The Call to Adventure and Refusal of the Call:

These are the second and third stages of the Hero’s Journey. At this stage, The Hero faces a challenge which changes up their ordinary world and, initially, cannot accept it. Hang’s call to adventure is one like a downward spiral. It begins when she is first introduced to her maternal uncle, Uncle Chinh. He is a member of the communist party and before Hang’s birth, was in charge of the redistribution of land in his village. He showed no mercy to landlords,he forced them to give up their land, and humiliated them in front of the village people. Hang’s father, Ton, and his family owned a large plot of land and were landlords as well. This made them victims of false accusations and were forced to give up their land. Ton ran away, leaving his mother and sister to face the public humiliation and the accusations spat by Uncle Chinh.

Years after the land reform, when Hang was just a little girl, Uncle Chinh came to visit. Her and her mother were living a fairly poor life and had enough money for just themselves. Uncle Chinh’s visit is the first time Hang meets her uncle. He showed no affection to neither her or her mother and only came to visit to ask for money. Hang could not accept him as her uncle but had to, and he remains as the antagonist in her life.

Meeting the Mentor:

The mentor is the archetype that The Hero for their journey. It is Aunt Tam who acts as this mentor. Although Hang does not care much for her aunt, she must listen to her advice and follow her rules out of respect. Her aunt raised her from a distance. She provided her with money, clothing, and food, she made sure Hang did well in her studies, and gives her advice every chance she gets. Hang is not sure if she could meet her aunt’s high expectations. Since Hang is the only blood left of her father, Aunt Tam wants her to inherit the family house, and expects her to bring honor to her father’s name, but Hang is not too sure if she wants to do that.

Crossing the Threshold:

This is the part of the story in which The Hero leaves the Ordinary World embarks their journey into unfamiliar territories. Hang crosses this threshold when she is becomes a teenager. There was news that Uncle Chinh was deadly sick, which caused Hang’s mother to panic and rush to go see him. The news apparently was over exaggerated and Chinh was fortunately not about to die. While visiting his house, they were introduced to his wife and two sons. Hang’s mother immediately adored the two boys and began showering them with gifts. Although Hang and her mother were living a more comfortable life thanks to Aunt Tam’s gifts, the money began to be directed to Hang’s cousins. As a result, Hang’s relationship with her mother began to change. She became more focused on pleasing her nephew’s instead of her own daughter.

Tests, Allies and Enemies:

In this part of the Hero’s Journey, The Hero has to jump through many hoops, making friends and enemies and enemies along the way. Hang’s relationship with her mother is now hanging by a thread. Her mother was still showering her nephews with gifts, neglecting Hang’s needs and putting her brother’s much higher than hers. Hang became more appreciative of her aunt’s attention, which makes Hang’s mother jealous.  As they become more distant, there life becomes harder.  Uncle Chinh becomes diabetic, and her mother of course wants to make sure he is okay. This meant more money was being given to him to get better. She becomes a lot less affectionate and a lot colder. They now have little to no money and can barely support themselves. Hang tries to help by offering food and money Aunt Tam brings her, but each time her mother rejects her.

Approach

With their newfound allies, The Hero prepares to face the biggest challenge the new world has to offer. Hang’s mother continued to distance herself from her daughter. It had reached a point where Hang her on this, which resulted to her getting kicked out of the house. She begins to dorm at her school and soon, her life becoming fairly stable. She was still under the protection and provisions of Aunt Tam and was enjoying her time at university. She made friends and was an outstanding student, the only thing wrong is the loss of her mother’s presence and love. She gets updates every now and then from family friends, and is always sending some money to make sure she is safe, yet she is still wanting to mend the relationship they once had. One day, Hang’s mother gets hit by a bus and had to get her leg amputated. Once she heard the news, Hang immediately rushed to go see her. She stays with her for a week, making sure she is okay. Her mother, though crippled and hospitalized, asks Hang to visit Chinh. Not wanting to see her uncle, she puts off the trip, finally going at the end of the week. She tells him of his sister’s accident, but his wife will not give them any money for support. She returns back to her mother, only to lie about the visit, saying he was not home. Her mother begins to ramble about how busy he must be, travelling around representing the communist party. Hang, feeling rejected and uncared for agrees curtly. Time passes and she drops out of school, going to Russia to work as an exported worker.

The Ordeal

This is the part of the Hero’s Journey in which The Hero finally faces their fear. Hang, now in Russia, lives a dull and miserable life. A couple years have past and Hang’s life has seen no joy. She gave up her education, her comfort, and her love for no good reason. Her time in Russia was spent working, and being sad. There is the occasion which comes when she gets a telegram from her uncle. It is that kind of telegram that began the whole book. She gets a telegram telling her go to Moscow because her uncle is sick. Dreading to meet her uncle she refuses the call, but soon is gets on the next train to Moscow. Once she arrive she finds out he is evidently not sick at all. He needed help with his black market trade. He reached out to Hang because, unlike him, she knew how to speak Russian and had enough money for bribing. Angered and slightly hurt, Hang refuses to help and returns back to the textile factory.

The Reward

After fighting their fears and facing death, The Hero has gotten the treasure. In Hang’s case, her reward was more so given to her, like a prisoner in jail and finally becoming free. She arrives back to her dormitory only to be greeted with yet another telegram. The message was sent anonymously, but states bluntly that Aunt Tam is dying and she must return to Vietnam immediately. Although the news of the telegram was saddening, Hang was relieved to be going back home.

The Road Back

It is near the ending of the story, and The Hero is completing their adventure, going back to the ordinary world with their treasure. Hang arrives in Vietnam, ready to see her mother and dying aunt. She first sees her mother. She spends the day helping her with her shack, and at night is greeted by neighbors who heard of her return. She is at peace with herself. She has her mother, and is back home. After they all leave, Hang and her mother begin to mend their relationship, only for Hang the next morning, leaving just a note.

The Resurrection

Before The Hero can completely finish their journey, they must make one last sacrifice. It is the sacrifice of a loved one in Paradise of the Blind. Hang left her mother early in the morning without saying goodbye. She goes to visit Aunt Tam, who is sick and on bed rest. She first sees her aunt lying in bed, still as clean and proper as she was in her health. She sees Hang and scrawny frame, and begins blaming herself for the years they have been apart. A day goes by and Aunt Tam is beginning to die. She gives Hang chain with different keys, each one for a specific chest. With her dying breath she tells Hang her last wishes, one of them being that she stays and protects the house. A few hours later, Aunt Tam dies. Hang realises that there is no one left to love her, and no one left to be loved. She realises the pains of grief and the strength of its permanence.

Return with the Elixir:

This is the end of the Hero’s Journey. The Hero possesses some part of his treasure that can change the world. After Aunt Tam’s funeral, people begin purchasing items from her house. Hang being the one to inherit the house and it’s contents, is overwhelmed. Aunt Tam’s trunks are filled with money or items to be sold for money. At the bottom of one case is the map to Hang’s inheritance. Aunt Tam made sure to leave special instructions of when to dig it up. On a trip to Aunt Tam’s grave Hang feels the need to leave, she realises life now in Vietnam is nothing of how it was back in her childhood. She goes against her aunt and comes to the conclusion of selling the house, for there is no reason to remember her ancestors in such a way. She  begins to accept the temporary joys in life and wishes to leave to a new place, some far away from what she has.

Symbolism in Relation to Paradise of the Blind According To Lodge(Final)

According to Lodge, “ Somebody once said, however, the novelist should make his spade a spade before he makes it a symbol.. If the spade is introduced all too obviously just for the sake of its symbolic meaning, it will tend to undermine the credibility of the narrative(Lodge 139)”. This point is pertinent to Paradise Of The Blind because the novel as a whole does not openly and obviously give out symbols. Thus, making the reader investigate and understand the characters in order to analyze the roles and meaning behind the symbols implemented through the novel.

“Anything that stands for something is a symbol. In most literary works a symbol tries to be original and tends towards a rich ambiguous meaning”(Lodge 139). 

Within Paradise of the Blind readers are constantly and repetitively exposed to the evident theme of food. Food in the novel symbolizes human expression and personal value. Food is like a significant measurement that amounts to ones love, respect, and hatred for the people and environment around them. For example, the blood pudding, usually made by father and son, symbolizes the thematic issue of the blood ties established in the patriarchal society(Blodgett). A popular Vietnamese saying stated “A morsel of food is like a morsel of shame”. This mirrors the principle that food symbolizes ones status in the social ladder, which is why it can be inferred that food symbolizes the changing wealth of Hang, her mother, aunt, and other characters

On the other hand, the “glistening purple duckweed flowers(Huong, 131)” symbolize sweetness, especially within the female characters. The flowers also symbolize hope in a hopeless and corrupt society, they also represent beauty and resilience. Duckweed symbolizes the characters in the novel surrounded by the filth of the failed communist ideology and its outcomes.

Finally, Duong states “Residence K had aged, and the main driveway was now scarred with bumps and potholes(Duong 174). Ironically, Residence K was a communist privilege, but in reality it was like a prison that failed and died. This could symbolize how the communist ideology failed in Vietnam.

“Symbolism is generated in different ways. The Nature/Culture symbolism is modeled on rhetorical figures of speech known as metonymy and synecdoche (Lodge 141).

Metonymy tends to substitute cause for effect and vice versa. In Paradise of the Blind this symbolic rhetorical figure is shown with relation to the weather. The weather within the novel is used to symbolize the character’s emotions. For example, the bitter cold weather can express the character’s coldness of heart and the feelings of isolation, inner reality, and misery, especially when making decisions that could affect their future and lead to their epiphany. On the other hand the character’s misery can be seen as a cause for the bad weather. This shows the significance of symbolism in the novel because it demonstrates the mixing up of cause and effect in order to create an atmosphere.

Symbolism is also generated through synecdoche’s, a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa. In Paradise of The Blind Hang symbolizes the whole Vietnamese generation affected by Communism and the suffering and consequences that come along with it. In contrast, Uncle Chinh can be seen as the character representing the attempt and effort that came with establishing communism within Vietnam. Uncle Chinh represented those who worked to achieve it, and finally the consequences that came with it.

Lastly, Lodge states that “The poetic style known as Symbolism, ….exerted considerable influence on English writing and suggested meanings without a denotative core(139)” This point is most evident in the title of the novel. The ironic title Paradise of the Blind helps symbolize the setback of a country influenced by communist control. The communist leaders assume they are creating a paradise of Vietnam but are actually blind to the true reality of the society. They do not realize that the way they are implementing communism will never benefit the Vietnamese people.

Overall, symbolism within Paradise of the Blind helps suggest underlying meanings and helps enhance the overall themes of the novel. It also helps better appreciate the author’s choice to symbolize specific aspects of the novel to emphasize their importance.

Sarah A.

Works Cited:

Blodgett, Harriet. “The Feminist Artistry of Vietnam’s Duong Thu Huong.” World Literature

Today, vol. 75, no. 3/4, 2001, pp. 31–39., www.jstor.org/stable/40156746.

Dương, Thu Hương. Paradise of the blind. New York: Perennial, 2002. Print.

Lodge’s Ideas on A Sense of the Past Applied to “Paradise of the Blind”

Whenever the word past is mentioned, one thing that immediately comes to mind is a history rich in noteworthy events. A history that not only defines a character, but a novel as a whole. However, as Lodge’s writings demonstrate, the past is much more than the historical events that take place within a novel. In relation to Paradise of the Blind, Lodge’s ideas demonstrate that a sense of the past is gained through much more than the constant flashbacks that Hang tells. Lodge lists two significant points that serve as a guide in understanding the sense of the past within the novel Paradise of the Blind. Through the interpretation of Lodge’s ideas on a sense of the past the reader can gain a better understanding on both the culture that the plot of the novel revolves around, and the viewpoints on communism discussed.

The first point that he makes is that the past represents the ways of life of ordinary individuals. These ways of life are revolved around three concepts: morals, manners, and culture (Lodge 131). For the Vietnamese, culture served as a means of shaping their day to day lives and influencing their identity as a whole. This is evident in the family structure that Hang discusses. When discussing Mother Que’s past Hang continuously mentions her mother’s day to day activities, which consisted of chores such as cleaning. This is evident on page 19 where she states: “it was difficult enough to clean it and scrub the floors. On top of that, there was the garden to maintain and defend from an invasion of weeds. As soon as she weeded one corner, weeds would swallow up another” (Huong 19). Her referral to the constant growth of weeds indicates that women’s lives consisted of an endless amount of tasks. When one chore was done, there was always another task to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, in the Vietnamese culture men had total authority over the decisions that were made. This authority is demonstrated by the actions of Uncle Chinh. Not only does he threaten to kick Mother Que out of the house if she remains married to Ton, but he also kicks out Ton, and forces Hang’s grandmother and aunt to obey his every command, as Hang states: “My grandmother and my aunt were forced to prostrate themselves, head bowed, arms crossed behind their backs”(Huong 24). Chinh also withholds authority on one of the most critical decisions in Vietnamese culture- the decisions made on burial. He never created a burial for his parents. This is evident in the novel when Mother Que asks: “Why did you never even bother to organize the memorial ceremonies in honor of our parents? After all these years” (Huong 49). In turn, Chinh replies: “Come on, let’s drop this nonsense. We live in a materialistic age. No one cares about all this ancestor worship. After death, there’s nothing” (Huong 49). Although ancestors were viewed as essential figures to not only an individual’s past, but their present as well; Chinh’s decisions were obliged. Thus demonstrating the total authority that men had, no matter how cruel or opposing their decisions were to culture.

Another significant point that Lodge makes is that the past underlines “the phenomenon of social and cultural change”(Lodge 131).  This point is underlined when the author writes about events that took place in a time period prior to when the author wrote his or her novel. In turn, the effects of the novel are lost on modern readers (Lodge 131). However, what is particularly notable about this novel is the fact that Huong wrote about a historical event that she lived through. Huong published Paradise of the Blind in 1988. A year later, she was expelled from the Communist Party for her outspoken criticisms (Blodgett 33). Her direct experience with communism gives a justifiable perspective on the negative portrayal of communism within her novel. However, as Lodge states this leads to a lost effect on modern day readers- which in fact makes it difficult for them to truly empathize with Hang or appreciate the novel, since they are in a completely different time period. Not only have the effects of the novel been lost on modern day readers, but also the Vietnamese themselves. She wrote this novel in hopes of creating a change within a movement that she disagreed with. Thus, Huong wrote the novel in hopes of demonstrating to her people the negative effects of communism and the true damages that came with it, for it did not create a utopian society.

However, one thing that modern readers can appreciate from the novel is the lesson that Hang teaches us- in never letting the past define us. This is seen when Hang realizes that by staying in Tam’s house she lets the past define her. Hang finally realizes that she cannot let the cultural expectations and rules weigh her down, and that culture robs her of the ability to be who she truly wants to be. Therefore, she sells the house and moves on to discovering who she really is, through proceeding with her education.

Overall, Lodge’s ideas help readers gain a better understanding of the novel, and gain an appreciation for it. Through understanding the author’s past readers come to the realization that her negative perspective on communism is indeed justifiable (due to her direct work with communism). Readers can also gain an understanding on why Uncle Chinh had so much power within his household. Therefore, Lodge’s ideas are crucial in understanding the sense of the past within the novel Paradise of the Blind.

-Sarah O.

Works Cited:

Blodgett, Harriet. “The Feminist Artistry of Vietnam’s Duong Thu Huong.” World Literature

Today, vol. 75, no. 3/4, 2001, pp. 31–39., www.jstor.org/stable/40156746.

Dương, Thu Hương. Paradise of the Blind. New York: Perennial, 2002. Print.