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

David Lodge describes weather as one of the main themes that is concentrated on in fiction. The detailed description of the weather helps to set the mood as gloomy, or sad. The author uses the weather to manipulate how one feels about the character and their actions, based on the popular belief that how a person feels is affected by their personal view of their surroundings and environment. Weather affects our moods, and the writer can easily set the mood to be sad by describing the weather to be gloomy and dreary. Similarly, the author can induce feelings of joy and happiness with the sun shining and clear blue skies. In the novel Paradise of the Blind, the author periodically references different aspects of the weather to elicit feelings of hope and sadness. Duong also uses pathetic fallacy when saying, “To me, autumn was a unique, foreign kind of beauty. Soon, it would be winter, and snow, endless snow”. Hang’s hope is depicted here by her adoration of the autumn season, while simultaneously foreshadowing that something bad is going to happen by using weather as a metaphor for suffering.
Jane Austen is one of the most popular authors who utilized weather as a main factor to set the tone in her books. She uses environment and the weather to describe a person’s emotions and true feelings. She also personifies inanimate objects such as ‘dead leaves’ to describe one of her characters. Austen makes discreet use of the ‘pathetic fallacy’ which is the use of external things to give us a false sense of feeling about something. She says, for example, that on the worst day of her characters’ lives, ‘the weather added what I could of gloom.’ The weather of course is not capable of doing so, but it made her point that much more important and the characters’ sadness that much more profound. Weather thus becomes more than a topic of conversation for Austen’s characters; it is the symbol of fortune in their lives. In the story, Bleak House, Charles Dickens also uses pathetic fallacy more obviously by beginning the story describing ‘implacable November weather.’ Similarly, in the novel Paradise of the Blind, Duong uses the lotus flower to symbolize redemption and hope in that Hang’s relationship with her mother was very distant and non-existent. When Hang visits her mother for the first time after being kicked out, her mother makers her lotus-seed pudding, symbolizing that they have somehow fixed their broken relationship. Duong ends the novel by writing “I can’t squander my life tending to these faded flowers, these shadows, the legacy of past crimes.” This metaphor shows Hang referring to her past, while Duong had ironically used flower references to depict hope throughout the novel. Hang is now saying that the flowers are nothing but faded, symbolizing her family and their history of crime, and the shadows representing the Vietnamese people she is leaving.

1 Comment

  1. tulieibrahim says:

    How interesting! I had never really considered how much the description of weather affected the tone of the book. As i think back to reading the book, I can now remember how the weather foreshadowed what was to come. For example in the first chapter, as Hang lays ill in bed, she describes the outside world to be bare and dark, setting the mood as dreary and causing the reader to feel uneasy able what is to come.

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