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Motivation Portrayed Throughout “Paradise of the Blind” (Draft)


Motivation gives us a need and reason for doing something. It is this burning desire inside us aiming to achieve a specific and well defined goal. This inner desire triggers us into action despite the obstacles and odds that are come against us. Motivation is this eagerness and passion that drives the decisions we make that help us shape the path we walk on. In literature, “motivation” is defined as a reason behind a character’s specific action or behavior. This type of behavior is characterized by the character’s own consent and willingness to do something. This is what Lodge explains to us when he defines the sources of motivation of a character. According to Lodge, Novels can offer us more or less convincing models of how and why people act as they do (Lodge 183). He Aims to convince us to that the characters act as they do not simply because it suits the interests of the plot but because a combination of the factors, some internal, some external, plausibly cause them to do so. The desire of motivation has been portrayed throughout many characters like Ton,  Aunt Tam, Que, Uncle Chinh, who have led to the choices of performing actions that had both positive and negative affects. These decisions they make motivate Hang to create her own decisions in life and to not be weighed down by her past and the rules of culture .

The main plot of the story arises when Chinh, a dedicated Communist, returns from war back to his village.After the war, Chinh becomes an official in the Communist Party and returns to his village to supervise land reform. Being so narrow minded and dedicated to his communist beliefs, motivates him to denouncing his own sister’s family  as “landlords, the mortal  enemies of the peasantry, “ and as “exploiters”.  Such denunciations are carried out in front of all the villagers. All the landowners are denounced, and their land is confiscated, which includes Que’s sister-in-law Tam and her grandmother Nhieu. Ton, Chin’s brother in law cannot bear the shame of being denounced in front of the entire village, let alone by his “family”motivating him to flee his entire family and village.

Ton flees the village and finds shelter and Eventually he arrives in a Muong minority region, where he settles down and marries again. After years, Ton visits his first wife Que and that is when Hang is conceived. Having a wife who is carrying his child, motivates him to get permission from his Muong  wife to come to town and help Que with the child. However, she refused, insulted him, accused him of ingratitude. Now, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of Ton. A man accused of being a landlord by his own family, a man brought to shame in front of his entire village, a man who flees to start a new life only to find that he has given life to a child.  A man who is then denied the right to care for this child and is brought to shame once again.  The decision to commit suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision, often motivated by the presence of a painful feeling from which little to no hope of reprieve exists. Feeling shamed, Ton drowns himself in a river leaving his daughter Hang an orphan. This inner drive known as motivation has led both Chin and Ton to do things that has shaped the main character, Hang’s life.

Hang has reached a point where she does not wish to carry the same burdens as her family. She decides to do what makes her happy—because her duty to her mother, who would sacrifice her own daughter to help her corrupt brother—is not happiness. In the end, Hang leaves us with a  powerful message: “Forgive me, my aunt: I’m going to sell this house and leave all this behind. 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 the past crimes,” (Huong 258).  By living in Aunt Tam’s house, will mean Hang will be tied down by her will further be bound by traditions and relations. However, this is where Hang identifies who she really is and walks her own path, one that is not tied down by her past or culture. Unlike all the female characters portrayed throughout Paradise of the Blind,  Hang finally wishes to live a life of her own.Throughout the whole novel, both Aunt Tam and Que’s search for identity is never completed. Instead, they are tied down by their family and the rules of their culture.Hang demonstrates the power motivation has to create identity. Hang is motivated to find her strength and courage to go against everything and be herself.


  1. sbnalsaadi says:

    I applaud you for writing out this well thought out analysis. When I was reading I sensed some irony behind Hangs decision to choose to follow her own path. She is constantly surrounded by female figures whose only motivation in life is to raise the patriarchy within society, but even growing up in that environment she has an epiphany and realizes that isn’t what she wants. Hang chose to go against her cultural ideals for the sake of her own happiness. This motivation to go against the set ideal of what is expected in society, I think, is part of the obstacles she faced in her coming of age journey.

  2. aalghoraiyr says:

    i agree with the your analysis, however it would be more better if there were examples of why hang lost her motivation. for example, her interactions with her uncle Chinh and her mother left her disappointed in her mother and disgusted in her uncle. on page 237 hang mother says “do you ever see Uncle Chinh, over there.” “i wanted to scream, to smash something, to escape the stench of this wretched roof once and for all.” she then left the house after hearing her mother snore, she described it as “grotesque”. “i got up immediately, packed my knapsack, and left a note for my mother on the table” going back to the village. not sure when i will be back. take care of yourself.” this shows that hang is frustrated with her mother and wanted no more than to leave. she no longer had the will to interact with her mother. she no longer had the motivation.

  3. sarahpanera123 says:

    I absolutely loved your analysis, for it is greatly well written and helps me as a reader appreciate motivation within the novel. What I noticed as a point of correlation is the motivation that communism plays within Uncle Chinh’s life, and a point that caught my attention in the novel. This point is when Uncle Chinh lies to those in his village and states that Mother Que ran away because she has kidney disease (Huong 32). When in fact she ran away because Uncle Chinh demanded for her marriage to end. It is evident that Uncle Chinh stops at nothing to protect him and his name. He does this by ensuring that Mother Que does not commit any action that would be looked down upon by the village-specifically her marriage to Ton. This is because in Vietnamese culture, any action an individual did represented them and their entire family. I believe that this correlates to communism and its motivational feature, because Uncle Chinh wanted the peasantry to rise against the landlords.Therefore, he prevents Mother Que from remaining married to Ton, whose family was categorized as landlords.

  4. safahawash says:

    Very great job! You did an amazing job relaying your interpretations in such an organzined and beneficial manner. I noticed how you formatted this post in a descending way- this emphasized your cause and effect pattern. Such how Hang was the most affected by those who preceded her and how each person’s motivation was towards their priority. In this case Aunt Tam and Que were two characters who mirrored one another and it was evident that their motivation was towards the men in their life. This depicts the values of the Vietnamese people. I really enjoyed reading this!

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