Literature, Language, and Life

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Weather applied to the novel, Paradise of the Blind(final)

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.  The use of pathetic fallacy is evident in Lodge’s description of literary themes.  Pathetic fallacy is the use of external things to give the reader a false sense of feeling about something.  The technique is often used to emphasize how the weather is depicting extreme feelings of sadness or happiness. 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 illustrated here by her adoration of the autumn season, while simultaneously foreshadowing that something bad is going to happen by using the ‘endless snow’ as a metaphor for suffering.

One of the quotes that makes a major impact in the beginning of the novel is when the protagonist, Hang, is expressing internal reflection.  Hang says that “I could feel the chill of exile under my skin, in my bones.”  The imagery found here makes the reader empathize with Hang in that she is “chilled” by her exile because she is far from her home.  Ironically, Hang simultaneously feels that she not only chilled, but also on fire, by saying she wishes her mother’s heart “could gather a spark from this inferno.”  The irony of using the cold and the heat to describe her internal struggle is truly profound.

One of the most prevalent themes that Duong makes references to throughout the novel is the lotus flower.  At one point in the novel they are used to represent beauty and hope, when Duong states that “those purple flowers always glistened, radiant in the middle of the filth.”  They are also used 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, and all the flashbacks she has had, where Duong had ironically used the flower references to depict hope and beauty 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.  The faded flowers now represent her ultimate decision to let go of her past and leave her family and culture.



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