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Narrative Structure in Paradise of the Blind



After reading David Lodge’s ideas on narrative structure readers are able to relate his ideas to the famous novel Paradise of the Blind by Dương Thu Hương. David Lodge’s discusses and defines narrative unity in three ways. The first one stating that a beginning does not require nothing to start it. The second definition discusses that an end does not require something to end it or follow it. The third definition states that the middle requires both something before and after it.  In Paradise of the Blind, the author uses paragraphs with lengthy sentences to describe the past of her family and their perspectives such as her father. The novel starts with Hang, the main character on a train to Moscow to visit her uncle since a tragic event has occurred. Meanwhile, the main character or narrator has not introduced herself yet. On the train to Moscow,  Hang starts remembering her past memories that occurred. We realize that Hang only knows and remembers what she is told and remembers due to the society she is living in. She is limited to only what she knows because of the people she surrounds herself with and who she is surrounded by with no choice.  

Lodge continues on by describing two types of speeches. The two types of speeches are direct speech and reported speech. Direct speech gives a deeper insight of the character and their personality. Reported speech is shown to give more of a brief insight.  This is evident throughout the novel many times. But an example is shown when the main character Hang asks about her family and ask about a man with the name of Ton they reply by saying “it’s your father you poor thing”. They respond in a way that is meant to criticize and look down upon Ton. Throughout the novel, the reader is taught to look down upon individuals who don’t have much destiny or known as luck. In the novel, Hang is on the train going to Moscow remembering her past and her experiences. We come to understand that in this novel the setting, time, and situations shifts many time due to the understanding that the book is formed with the memories of Hang’s past and not her present. Throughout the novel, Hang continuously has to remind herself that she is remembering her past and she is currently in her present -day. During her current state of mind, she is constantly trying to justify her actions and behaviors due to her previous experiences.  Justifying her actions go hand in hand with justifying her point of view. An instance is shown then the narrator known as Hang describes and portrays her parents as individuals who has lost their blood and race.

The author’s reaction and expression were told near the end of the story. Her anger and emotions and feeling were let out towards this specific scene because it was a response to how she was treated as a child. This specific scene was when Hang decides to sell her aunt’s house. She sold the house representing the limitations and boundaries she had as a young child.  We can conclude that this move is narrated through her past and experiences as a child.


  1. nabakhanisa says:

    0h! Quick correction, I think when you said “They respond in a way that is meant to criticize and look down upon Ton” you ment Hang instead of Ton. 🙂

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