In the chapter ‘Repetition’ in Lodge’s book, he states some key details in noticing the technique in which different authors implement the literary device of repetition in their writing. He states that there are only two kinds of words used; lexical and grammatical words. Lexical words are words like cold, dark, wind, fall and grammatical words are words like of, in or and. These are better known as articles, conjunctions and prepositions. Lodge has also stated that the main purpose of using this specific literary device is for emphasis.
Before I begin, here are a few details about the book that will help understand this post
- Hang: Main character
- Que: Hang’s Mother
- Chinh: Hang’s maternal uncle
- Aunt Tam: Hang’s paternal aunt
These ideas are demonstrated throughout the entire book. In chapter 1; Huong begins the book with the unfortunate feeling of homesickness, felt by the main character Hang. This is shown on page 12:’Drained by fatigue and homesickness’, and page 14:’I miss home…something terrible.’ This begins the story with the sad feeling that our main character Hang is not in her hometown. These quotes also demonstrate the theory of lexical words that Lodge spoke about. The same ideas are stated using different wording and are expected to evoke a reaction from the reader.This idea also contributes to one of the themes of the novel which is the failure of communism. It shows that the failure of communism displaced so many of the citizens of Vietnam, including Hang. In chapter 2, there is more discussion of the communist revolution that is taking over Vietnam. Hang’s mother is struggling to make a living for herself and Hang. Her brother is part of the army that is enforcing communism. Throughout this chapter and throughout the rest of the book, her brother Chinh, speaks to Hang’s mother with lots of contempt and rudeness. Despite this,Hang’s mother treats him with utmost respect and is always ready to help him. Whenever Chinh speaks to Que in this way, it is when Hang is talking about the communist revolution. Whenever Que attempts to say anything, good or bad, about the communist revolution, Chinh immediately snaps at her. This can be found on page 31:’Uncle Chinh interrogated her’, ‘Uncle Chinh was furious’, and on page 32 ‘Uncle Chinh came home one day in a fury’, ‘You realize that you’re sabotaging my authority. You know that, don’t you? No other section chief for land reform in this entire province has been as prompt, or as radical, as I have. You’re undermining my efforts.’Since this has been repeated so many times, it shows just how much importance Chinh places in the communist revolution. He loves and values it so much and really believes it will improve the condition of Vietnam. The fact that Que is so respectful and never turns away from Chinh demonstrates the patriarchy in their culture. Since her brother is the only male present in this family, he automatically becomes the head of the family, according to Vietnamese culture. This case of repetition is also the lexical word type.This instance further clarifies the theme that had been stated earlier. Communism is failing in Vietnam but Chinh is in denial to this reality. He is blind to what is actually happening and just ants to enforce the the ideology of communism.The next concept repeated throughout this book is the repetition of the description of different Vietnamese foods. Just a few examples of this are shown in chapter 3: on page 53: ‘Here, they made tiny sticky-rice cakes and hemp cakes small as jackfruit pits and wrapped in five or seven layers of banana leaves….’ This is just one example of the countless decadent descriptions of food that Hang provides in the book. The constant discussion of food in the book displays how important food is in this culture. It provides them all with a sense of community and something to look forward to at all times of the day. Especially with the communist revolution going on, food has become scarce. The characters in the story aren’t sure what their next meal will be or when they will get their next meal at all.Another theme of the novel is the coming of age for Hang. Throughout the novel, she flips back and forth between her current life and her childhood. Food is seen to be a large part of the Vietnamese culture and community.The constant description and detailed illustration show how important and prominent food was in Hang’s childhood. The last main point of repetition in the story is the repetition of a specific song. In Hang’s childhood neighborhood, there is a cripple that lives near them. He is often heard singing a specific song. It is heard for the first time in chapter 3: ‘Hail autumn and its procession of dead leaves, The rows of barren poplars stand silent on the hillside.’ The cripple is heard singing this song multiple times throughout the book. Ironically enough, Hang always has conflicted feelings. She is always feeling upset about something and thats when she hears the cripple singing this song in the distance. This instance relates to the theme of Hang’s coming of age.She can vividly recall the cripple singing the same song whenever she is distressed. Now, whenever Hang hears this song, she will immediately recall the undesirable events of her childhood. Similarly, whenever she thinks of the sad events that took place in her childhood, she will hear this song playing in the background. These were just a few of the main examples of repetition in this book. Lodge was right about his concept of repetition in literature and it is demonstrated in ‘Paradise Of the Blind’ by Duong Thu Huong.