According to David Lodge, the first subject that captures the reader’s attention within any novel is the title. The title of a novel can resemble many different things and can also be a representation of the time period in which the novel was written or published. At first, the titles of early English novels were the names of main characters, however novelists later realized that titles could be an indication of theme. In the 19th century, titles became resonant literary quotes. Modernists soon created titles of symbolic or metaphorical meaning, and recently, titles have been that of the whimsical or riddle-like phrases.
One of the trickiest jobs of writing a novel is choosing the title. The title serves as a medium for providing a sharper focus as to what the novel may be about. Titles are carefully thought out and mean more to the author than the reader. Since novels have always been considered as works of art, commercial considerations may affect the publication of titles, and they may even lead them to be changed.
Paradise of the Blind is a novel is which the title is of riddling effect. One may ask, to what extent is the title indicative to the theme? The title is a representation of the disillusionment of a utopian society formed by communism and communist leadership. The leaders assume they are producing welfare to the community; however, they are blind to the true reality of the society. The communist leaders are blind leaders who strive to create a new community that will never function as a beneficiary to the Vietnamese people. People wear themselves out trying to “recreate heaven on earth” (pg. 225), however, they are unaware as to what heaven really encompasses. Even the cripple mentioned within the novel again and again cries of a broken heart, he sings of a dream that has yet to be achieved. This dream is a dream of peace and prosperity of his country. Despite his disabilities, the cripple can still sense the unrest within his country. Even though the communist leaders are not physically disabled, they are still blind.
Not only are the communist leaders destroying the fabric of Vietnamese culture, they are destroying the relationship between the people. In chapter 11, a blind man searching for his daughter confronts Hang. Hang describes him as “a ghost looking for the daughter he had brought into this world, of whose suffering he knew nothing?” (pg. 238) This serves as a reminder for Hangs ruined relationship with her father caused by the blindly destructive work of communism. Additionally, their efforts of land reform and equality failed which in turn furthered the destruction of Hang’s family. Uncle Chinh is an example of this corruption. His work in the black market undermines his ideology as a communist leader. The communist leaders are blind to the future and the consequences that come with this new way of living. They promised a paradise, but how can one recognize paradise if they are blinded by their own greed for power?