Showing and Telling is a technique used in writing that allows the readers to better understand the mood, characters, and events of the novel. According to Lodge, showing is the quoted speech of the characters. Since the events that take place in the book are linguistic, the character’s quotes mirror what actually occurs. Showing also introduces to the audience the personality of the characters, their feelings, and gives an overall in-depth explanation of the events that are taking place. On the other hand, telling is the author’s summary, or the narrator’s language. This can accelerate the tempo of the narrative; it skips over things that are unimportant, or distracting. Telling does the opposite of showing in regards to the individuality of the characters; it does not give us a clear picture of the character’s traits, rather it gives us a broad overview of the character, or event that is taking place.
In the novel Paradise of the Blind , Duong switches between showing and telling in order to deepen the reader’s ability to connect with, and better understand the characters as well as the events they endure. Paradise of the Blind revolves around a girl named Hang who is recalling her past throughout the novel. The novel is written all from Hang’s perspective; at times she gives a detailed description about parts of her life, and other times she gives a vague overview of what took place.
In Chapter 2, the author talks mainly about the early life of Hang’s mother, known as “Que”. A mixture of telling and showing is used to keep the reader engaged. For example, when describing Hang’s mother and father, showing is used, it states “ My mom had just turned twenty. Ton was twenty-six. They say she was the most beautiful young woman in the village. My father had his charm. What’s more, he had an education.” Here, the author strategically uses showing when introducing an important character. Duong wants the readers to have a clear depiction of how Hang’s parents were like. However, later in the chapter, Duong uses telling when explaining the disappearance of Hang’s mother. It’s narrated, “ She bundled up a few clothes and left the village that December evening.” Here the author just uses a simple statement to describe what happened. By not giving much detail of the event, this compels the audience to keep reading in order to find out what happens.
As the novel progresses, Duong continues to strategically use showing and telling based on which is best fitting. In chapter 6, Hang narrates how she feels about her childhood. She states, “To me, my childhood seemed like a ball kicked across the road, aimless, without any purpose” In this line, the audience is being shown exactly how Hang feels, as though they were inside her brain. Because of this, the readers are able to understand how events that Hang previously recalled negatively impacted her childhood.
Later, in chapter 10, telling is used by Duong to give a sense of the events that took place. After Hang narrates her reuniting with her mother, and the happiness that she and her family felt, she skips forward in time. She states, “ This happiness lasted a year. The following year, Uncle Chinch came down with diabetes.” Here, Hang does not give any context to the happy year that she mentions. This information is briefly given for the reader to have an idea of what life was like for Hang.
Overall, Duong Thu Huong’s choice of when to use showing and when to use telling greatly enhanced the reader’s understanding of the novel. Duong’s use of telling helped the reader understand what was happening, and where they were. Showing of the characters, and main events was in great detail so the audience was able to form a vivid picture in their head, and almost experience what it was like. The use of this technique encouraged the reader’s interest in the novel and allowed them to better understand and imagine the characters and events.