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Ending (Paradise of the Blind)

David Lodge states in his chapter Ending that, “A last-minute twist is generally more typical of the short story than of the novel.”

Although there really isn’t a major plot twist in the end of the book, there is a kind of twist in Hang’s character at the very end. Hang’s character is one that is generally very respectful, which is why her decision to sell everything that Aunt Tam has left her is unexpected and shocking. It is revealed, however, that she plans on continuing at university. Her decision to do so reveals to the reader that although she may have had (or still has) respect for tradition, she feels that she must break away from not only tradition but also away from the Communist economy in order to pursue her dreams. She recognizes that she will never be happy if she doesn’t “escape” from this, because she has no place in it. If she doesn’t leave tradition and Communism behind, both of which have ultimately ruined her family, she will never be able to move forward.

Lodge quotes from his book, “Every novel must tell a story. And there are three types of story, the story that ends happily, the story that ends unhappily, and the story that ends neither happily nor unhappily, or, in other words, doesn’t really end at all.”

Paradise of the Blind fall into the third category, which is a story that doesn’t really end. By selling all of what Aunt Tam had given to her, the story would have ended on a sour note, thus ending unhappily. But, because she also plans on pursuing her dream to continue at university, this helps to end it in a more neutral way by balancing it out. The book also ends in a sort of strange way. It’s not entirely clear what happens to Hang. Although we know she returns to the university, we have no way of knowing whether she succeeds or not.

He also comments that “Perhaps we should distinguish between the end of a novel’s story…and the last page or two of the text, which often act as a kind of epilogue or postscript…”

The last chapter of Paradise of the Blind is neither an epilogue or an ending (and as stated above, the book doesn’t truly end). An epilogue is used to reveal what happens or will happen to the character(s) later on. Chapter 12 does indeed disclose what will happen to Hang in the future (that she will continue to university and sell what her aunt has left her). However, because the book doesn’t end very clearly, it can’t really be considered a “true” epilogue (which would mean that the book ends clearly).

Isen Ali

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