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Time Shifts: Lodge’s Ideas Compared to “Paradise of the Blind”

        In the chapter “Time Shift” by Lodge, Lodge attempts to help the readers understand the essentiality of time shifts in literature. Time shifts help the author grasp the reader’s understanding of the text to a certain point. 
    Lodge believes that time shifts help authors construct the text so they can prevent the readers from “losing themselves”. Through the use of time shifts writers can create irony in the story for the audience to enjoy. Time shifts are very essential in literature, specifically in novels or short stories because it enable the author to leap from one time zone to the next while he still has the attention from his audience. 
    The next part of the chapter connects time shifts with different point of views. For example, a first person time shift would be similar to a “flashback” or a “flash forward” as to where a third person time shift would be used to give the readers general background or help the audience come to a realization of something that may have occurred before or after a certain point. 
      Time shifts played a great role in “Paradise of the Blind” because Hang is constantly talking about her past and present. 

There are constant time shifts that take place throughout the novel. Lodge says “ Through time shift, narrative avoids presenting life as just one damn thing after another, and allows us to make connections of causality and irony between widely separated events.” He then continues saying “ A shift of narrative focus back in time may change our interpretation of something which happened much later in the chronology of the story, but which we have already experienced as readers of the text”. What Lodge has said was clearly evident in “Paradise of the Blind” because our interpretation of the texted changed as Hang gave us better insight to her past. 
       Like “Odyssey”, “Paradise of the Blind” also takes place after the war, but then goes back to the time during the war. Through this irony is formed as well as a developed interest in the text for the audience. In Hang’s case the time shift is more of a reminisces of her past life which leads to her present life. The time shifts in the novel are done in the form of a first person narrative. 
         After aunt Tam gets sick the times gift begin to slow down until Hang finally reaches her present day. The novel slowly comes to an end after the final time shift. Hang is no longer looking back on her past and begins to focuses on her future. 

Defamiliarization: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Paradise of the Blind

Defamiliarisation refers to a writer’s ability to take a known object and through the art of writing changing that easily identified object into a strangely unfamiliar item. According to David Lodge, defamiliarization is simply another word for originality. It is not necessary for an author to create something new to be original; they merely need to present to the reader an already familiar concept in a new and unfamiliar way. The use of defamiliarization in literary works is significant as it allows the readers perspective to be shifted and makes it possible for the writer to present an event or an object that is known among the social order to the reader in a way that is so foreign, the reader can experience the event for what seems to be the first time.

Duong Thu Huong used defamiliarization several times in her book, Paradise of the Blind, to allow the reader to connect with the characters in the novel and to personalize the events in the book so that the reader may experience them as accurately and intimately as possible. There are three particular sections in the novel in which defamiliarization is a crucial component in making the reader truly understand Hangs experiences.

In chapter two pages twenty-two and twenty-three, Huong defamiliarizes the land reform in a way that allows the reader to live through the confusion Hang and her mother experienced due to Uncle Chinh icy return. Throughout the conversation held by uncle Chinh and Hang’s mother, we begin to understand what is currently taking place in Vietnam. As Hang’s mother defends her husband Ton, the reader is shown that the wealthy who were punished during the land reforms were not horrible people. We are also shown how many people did not understand why the wealthy “had suddenly become an enemy of the people” and simply went along with the reforms to maintain the peace. By defamiliarizing the land reforms, the reader is able to connect with Hang and her family and understand the perplexity of the situation they were forced to endure. An event that once seemed detached had now become personalized and clarified.

In chapter six page one hundred and five, we see a new type of defamiliarization. While the type we identified earlier was meant to personalize an event, this instance of defamiliarization was intended to show innocence in a time of corruption and darkness. Hang and her mother arrive at the communist compound where Uncle Chinh lives and through Hangs point of view, the reader is able to detect her confusion as to why her Uncle, a high and mighty leader, must live in a simplistic, bare district. Her lack of understanding of the communist ways of life allows the reader to observe communism in a unique naive way. Hang’s innocent perception of her cousin’s scrawny appearances and their cautious actions show the reader a bleak image of how communism affected children. Those who the reader had once seen as heartless wicked members of a failed economic system are now seen as victims of a misguided attempt for a better life.

The last kind of defamiliarization seen in the book is located on the last page of the novel. It is employed with the means of leaving the reader with a sense of contemplation and hopefulness. A present day Hang sits alone after the death of her aunt and she “dreamed of different worlds, of the cool shade of a university auditorium, of a distant port where a plane could land and take off…” Instead of simply stating that Hang dreams of moving to America, Huong employs the use of defamiliarization to illustrate how deeply Hang longs for a life far from where she is. The imagery provided permits the reader to easily imagine Hang sitting in a university auditorium enjoying the shade that shields her from the hot sun as she watches planes fly overhead.  Through the use of defamiliarization, the reader is left hoping that Hang will finally obtain the life she desires.

Without the use of defamiliarization in Paradise of the Blind, the reader would put down the book without having their assumptions and perceptions on the topic challenged. Furthermore, the writer would not have been able to emotionally connect readers to his novel.  Defamiliarization is an effective tool in merging the readers sentiment with that of the characters and ensuring that the reader stays engrossed in the book.

Lodge’s Epiphany & Paradise of the Blind (Final)

In Lodge’s chapter, Epiphany, he states that an epiphany, in literal terms, is a showing. He says that an epiphany is when “a commonplace event or thought is transformed into a thing of timeless beauty by the exercise of the writer’s craft: ‘when the soul of the commonest object seems to us radiant’.” He believes that any passage in which “external reality is charged with a kind of transcendental significance for the perceiver” is an epiphany. Lodge also says that in fiction the epiphany is usually the climax or the resolution of the story; the moment of truth. He classifies epiphanies as prose fiction. He alleged that prose fiction is the most similar when it comes to the vocal pitch of lyric poetry. Thus being so, he concluded that passages/descriptions, in which epiphanies are applied to, are overflowing with figures of speech and sound. (Lodge, Epiphany)

In relation to Hang’s story in, Paradise of the Blind, an epiphany can be found in the end. In chapter 12, Hang says:

“A full moon shone through the dark crown of the trees. A few stars shimmered. I stood there motionless, staring at them. Never in my life had I felt, with such sharpness, the passing of time. Like watching the tail of a comet plummet and disappear into nothingness. Like the span of my life.” (Duong, pg. 258)

* In the quote, Hang comes to the sudden realization that time has evaded her. In reference to Lodge when he stated that an epiphany is when “a commonplace event or thought is transformed into a thing of timeless beauty…” in the beginning of this quote there is a sort of effortless beauty given to us by the description of the night. It is through this description that she comes to understand that her life has passed her by and it isn’t until this exact moment that she feels the true length of time.

Hang continues this thought when she says:

“Comets extinguish themselves, but memory refuses to die, and ‘hell’s money’ has no value in the market of life.” (Duong, pg. 258)

* When Hang says ‘comets’ she actually means ‘people’. She comes to the realization that people ruin themselves, they burn themselves out, however our memory will always be there. By ‘hell’s money’ she means suffering. Hang is saying that suffering has no real value in comparison to life.Which is in direct opposition to the communist beliefs that all people really need is material wealth and if you give it to them, they’re set.

Her epiphany has made her come to her final conclusion, as shown, when she says:

“Forgive me, my aunt: I’m going to sell this house and leave all of this behind. We can honor the wishes of the dead with a few flowers on a grave somewhere. I can squander my life tending these faded flowers, these shadows, the legacy of past crimes” (Duong, pg. 258)

* This is the resolution to Hang’s troubled life. Living her life under the oppression of her uncle who only ever wants her when he needs money, starving, and barely getting any attention from her own mother because all her mother wants to do is get in good graces with Uncle Chinh, and etc. Now, despite her Aunt Tam’s wishes to stay, Hang has decided that she cannot allow her past to hold her captive and must move forward in order to find herself and her peace.

Although an epiphany is literally a showing, Hang has an epiphany when her mother finally tells her about her father, Ton. The epiphany is apparent in the line:

“Perhaps it was my suffering that made my mother change her mind, made her tell me about her husband, about the father I never knew; and for the first time, I saw him clearly.” (Duong, pg .59)

*This isn’t exactly a sudden realization as Lodge states epiphanies are, however it is a showing. Knowing who her father is, Hang gains more sense of self. She sees a part of her, a very important part, for the very first time after being hidden for all these years. Its an opening in a way. An opening of her understanding. Finally knowing the story of her father, that part of Hang is at ease. Throughout the duration of the novel Hang grows mentally and intellectually, similar to a coming of age story. Her understanding of her father helps her understand the attention Aunt Tam desires from her as well as her mothers state.

Kennaz Kayal

Chapter Division

David lodge introduces his perception on chapter division by stating, “Breaking up a long text into smaller units has several possible effects. It gives the narrative, and the reader, time to take a breath, as it were, in the intervening pauses. For this reason, chapter breaks are useful for marking transitions between different times or places in the action.” He later discusses the effect of surprise and suspense on the concluding line of a chapter and the rhetorical effect of an opening statement. Lodge’s perception on chapter division correlates with the strategic chapter breaks, expressive introductions, and suspenseful concluding statements in Duong Thu Huong’s Paradise of the Blind.

The most prominent and powerful elements Huong uses throughout Paradise of the Blind are the shifts in time and place. Due to these constant transitions, the rhythm of the novel ultimately depends on the strategic textual organization. The conclusions of majority of the chapters in the novel are lead by a certain emotion or object that sparks a memory in the protagonist, Hang. This memory marks a transition to the past, serving as an introduction to a flashback and a chapter break, which ties in with Lodge’s perception. An example of this can be seen as early as in the conclusion of chapter two. A Russian song Hang had heard sparked a memory of her mother’s inability to revolt, introducing a flashback and marking a shift to the past. Another example of this can be seen in chapters three and four. The feeling of humiliation sparks a memory as she says “It was the humiliation, the feeling of injustice, that had haunted me since my neighbors had mocked me.” This leads to a time shift in the beginning of chapter four. Hang says “Unable to bear the injustice or the humiliation, my father fled.” Hang and her father both have a feeling of intense humiliation. This link of diction between both chapters displays an emotional link between Hang and her father.

After discussing time shifts in chapter breaks, Lodge shares his views on concluding sentences by stating, “They should act as a curtain line for a play to heighten an effect of surprise.”  The suspenseful concluding statements in the chapters of Paradise of the Blind do just that and more. The intriguing conclusions spark curiosity and captivate readers. An example of a suspenseful closing statements can be seen in chapter ten as Hang says, “Tears streamed down her swallow, blotchy cheeks. Her thigh, covered with bandages, stopped at the knee.” This conclusion stirs a pot of emotions within the reader as Hang describes the first time she lays eyes on her mother’s newly amputated leg.

The opening statements of chapters in Paradise of the Blind stimulate an overflow of deep emotions within the reader causing a rhetorical effect, coinciding with Lodge’s notion of expressive introductions which states, “Beginning a new chapter can have an expressive or rhetorical effect.” Huong uses the beginning of a chapter to entice the reader and create a connection between the audience and Hang. The opening statements of chapter ten, “In spite of everything she stood for, everything I was trying to escape, she was still my mother. And in spite of it all, I love her.”, exude powerful emotions from the readers and allow the reader to connect to Hang on a deeper level.

Lodge states, “We tend to take the division of chapters for granted, as if it were as natural and inevitable. But of course it is not.” After further analyzing the chapter division of Paradise of the Blind, the statement above has a new meaning. Huong’s use of climactic conclusions, time transitions, and emotional introductions are what separate Paradise of the Blind from other novels. These aspects constantly evoke several emotions, creating a bond between the reader and the novel. Thus, when comparing Lodge’s points with the significance of chapter division Huong’s work, the connection between the two is impossible to miss.

Applying Lodge’s Literary theory to Paradise of the blind. (updated)


‘’Other narrative forms, such as epic, and other media, such as film, can tell a story just as well, but nothing can equal the great tradition of the european novel in the richness, variety and psychological depth of its portrayal of human nature’’. Here Lodge states how important introducing a character really is.‘’Yet character is probably the most difficult aspect of the art of fiction to discuss in technical terms’’. Here Lodge states that with introducing characters being most vital in explaining a story, it is also the most difficult task. This is due to the reason that their are many different types of characters and different ways of representing them,’’major characters, minor characters, flat characters, round characters.’’ Lodge also says that ‘’The simplest way to introduce a character, common in older fiction, is to give a physical description and biographical summary.

In Paradise of The Blind, the main character Hang is introduced and in the beginning of the book given a brief physical description as a flat chested girl who looks ‘’as white a woman after giving birth. But this was all that was said in the beginning, as Lodge stated ‘’Modern novelists usually prefer to let facts about a character emerge gradually’’. This has been the case with Hang, as later on in the book, when she arrives at the train station to go back to Moscow another physical description of her is given as pale young woman with a lost, worried expression and stooped shoulders. As Hang gets into the train, she begins to have flashbacks of herself as a child. The description of the flashbacks are very sad and depressing. The description of the land reform policy that affected many families in Vietnam is shown through the eyes of Hang, who on the journey back home (Moscow) begins to visualize the events that her mother had told her about. The reader is forced to see the story through Hangs perspectives against the land reform policy or the communists that were leading Vietnam at that time. Hang is viewed from other characters as a very worn out, tired and homesick girl. Lodge also states that ‘’Clothes are always a useful index of character,class, life-style’’.This also has been clearly shown, as the standard of living in Vietnam at the time was very low. P.13 ‘’I saw the roof of the shack in Hanoi where my mother worked. Sheet metal patched together with tar paper, on rainy days the roof leaked, in the heat of the summer the acrid smell of tar was overpowering. ‘’Children played in filthy black water, sailing their white paper boats.


Postcolonial Criticism

Ahmed Dahir

                      Postcolonial Criticism


It’s the study of the legacy of the era of european, and sometimes american, direct global domination, which ended roughly in the mid- 20th century, and the residual political, socioeconomic, and psychological effects of that colonial history.

  • The colonial era had a significant cultural influence. Many countries colonized many areas.
  • New ideas were brought in that quickly impacted the different variation viewpoints.
  • It brought segregation in a way because people who were colonizing were taking their rights and enforcing their own laws upon them.
  • It changed the way people viewed the world but also the country in particular. It is very similar to cultural studies. 
  • “Postcolonial Criticism” investigates the relationships between colonizers and colonized in the period post-colonization.

Relationship to the book:

The correlation my main point towards the book paradise of the blind is that France came into viename and colonized it. Vietnam revolted against the colonization of french authority. France reached out to the super powers especially the United States for help against Vietnam. The United States denied helping france due to the monroe doctrine, which stated that United States would not interfere with any foreign problems. Although America did not send troops to France it helped aid them with supplies.The government had most of the power and wealth unlike for example Hang’s mother who sells street food to make a living for her daughter and herself. Postcolonial theory has brought fresh perspectives to the role of colonial peoples—their wealth, labor, and culture—in the development of modern European nation states. “Postcolonial Criticism” offers a fundamental critique of the ideology of colonial domination and at the same time seeks to undo the “imaginative geography”.


H., Tamara K. “What Is Postcolonialism Criticism? | ENotes.”, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Brewton, Vince. “Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.


In his chapter on Ideas, Lodge states that ” by novel of ideas one means to denote a novel in which the ideas are the source of the work’s energy”(198). He goes on to claim that these ideas are philosophically based and carry the novel’s narrative momentum. These ideas are often found as debatable theories or questions that are not answered within the novel but rather require the reader to find the answer themselves, thus leaving the reader in a state of thought and inquiry.

In Paradise of the Blind, the reader comes across the central idea or philosophical question that the novel itself revolves around in the beginning of the story. This “idea” is focused on the effect of radical political adjustment on families. This is evident in chapter 2 of Paradise of the Blind. In this chapter we come across Hang in a flashback of her uncle, who was kidnapped by the underground, forcing her mother’s husband’s family to prostrate themselves in the village courtyard. This event initiated the years and years of hatred among Hang’s paternal aunt and maternal uncle. Also in chapter 10, Hang breaks relations with her mother due to her acceptance of gifts from her aunt, which under no circumstances were to be used to finance her mother’s care packages to her uncle. The hatred among family members increases at this point in the novel and elicits the reader to question whether or not Hang’s family would not be in this situation if the communist regime took over or if they would be worse off.

It is in this moment that the reader has confronted the “idea” within the novel and is just beginning to uncover the truths and reasoning behind it. When the reader feels the need to keep reading and discovering. This is the novel’s narrative momentum, and Author Duong Thu Huong uses this central “idea” maintain the flow of the story and motivate her readers to remain glued to the novel.

Author Duong Thu Huong weaved this concept into the fabric of her novel, always keeping it in the mind of the reader. The question of the amalgamation of family and politics is left open for the reader to conjure up an answer for. Therefor the impact left on the reader is one of personal reflection on his/her ethics. Is it acceptable, in the effort of creating a utopian society where all are equal, for a government of a country to conduct themselves in a fashion that alters their countrymen’s way of life, for better or worse? Huong thus brings the reader to understand that the ambition of men can often lead to disastrous results.