Literature, Language, and Life

                                                      Irony within Paradise of The Blind                                       


Within the book, many characters’ actions contradict with their cultural beliefs and former actions, this creates irony. Since the beginning of the book it expresses the importance of familial ties, yet it shows the protagonists Uncle Chinh torturing his family to gain power among the masses.

Pg.31-32 “Uncle Chinh: if you continue to mix with these landlords, they will denounce me to my superiors. My authority and my honor will be ruined.

Protagonists mother:” leave me alone, I can’t stand any more of this.”

Uncle Chinh was furious: don’t be so selfish”

This excerpt exemplifies rhetoric irony. moments ago, Uncle Chinh says that his honor will be ruined due to his sister. He then calls her selfish for not giving up on her love.  After he sees that her actions are borderline insane he goes to her and says “were the laughingstock of the entire village. You realize that your sabotaging my authority. Your undermining my efforts”. Que, sister haven’t we always been family?  He then tries to introduce her to his superior.

The only time he acknowledges her as family is when he’s trying to use her.


              The irony shown in these pages portray the meaning of the books title. On page 126, Hang’s mother neglects her beloved daughter, whom she had with the love of her life, for her brother’s family. Hang is frustrated due to her mother placing all her attention on the family that mistreats her. “why did she love people who enslaved her?”. The very same thought can be used to question those that believe in communism. The setting is placed during the Tet festival, and the only two people who are unhappy are Hang herself, and the blind man who’s howls ring throughout the town. “paradise of the blind”.

This irony is dramatic irony, where hang is displeased by her mother’s actions, but her mother is oblivious to her daughter’s feelings, happily debating on what to give her brothers children.

A sad case of dramatic irony is on page 237. It is after hangs return from Moscow to her home and reunites with her mother. Hang buys her mother a “Minsk refrigerator” which was bought after her weary travels yet her mother after checking on her quickly asks about her uncle Chinh”. Hang is furious on the inside yet acts as if she is merely tired. Her mother has no idea of her disgust and anger.

“do you ever see uncle Chinh, over there? I felt choked with anger. I wanted to scream, to smash something, to escape the stench of this wretched roof once and for all. But I only pretended to yawn”.

“I hated her snoring. It was so simple. Its simplicity struck me as grotesque”.


The last big case of irony was within the last page.

“hells money has no value in the market of life.” We can honor the wishes of the dead with a few flowers on a grave somewhere. I can’t squander my life tending these faded flowers, these shadows, the legacy of past crime”.

“I sat down, and dreamed of different worlds, of the cool shade of a university auditorium, of a distant port where a plane could land and take off”.


However, not long ago the grave that she covered with “hells money” was her aunts grave at behest of the villagers. She also followed all the customs regarding the funeral to the letter. “I wore a traditional white linen mourning dress.” According to southern custom, I scattered white rose petals on her chest and sprinkled special tea leaves around her body.” According to tradition, I had to arrange three memorial ceremonies; on the third day, the forty-ninth day, and the hundredth day”. I decided to stay in the village until the end of the last ceremony”.

“I was indifferent to the sacred in all this, and I still don’t believe in the cults and rites”.

Yet contrary to her indifference she followed all of them.

After she burned the money and the gold leaf nuggets she was praised due to her piety. “I listened, satisfied”.

She still needed affirmation of being a good daughter due to her dashing her aunts wish of inheriting and maintaining the ancestral home. She instead chose to live a different life where her dreams would not be similarly broken. This is all rhetoric irony.

1 Comment

  1. Your realization of the points of irony throughout the book, are very interesting. I failed to realize the irony behind many of these statements, but after reading your analysis, I could see the true irony. It always interested me to know why authors apply irony, and after exploring the ironic title “Paradise of the Blind” I realized it is to make a point to reader so that they may understand the characters personalities along with the realization of the problem in the novel. Your insight was very helpful thank you, and great work !!

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