Perhaps one of the most important aspects needed to determine when reading a novel is identifying who the characters are. However, introducing a character is not as simple as it sounds. David Lodge emphasizes the complexity of introducing a character in one of his chapters from “The Art of Fiction”. The points made by David Lodge become very apparent when reading Paradise of the Blind.
David Lodge starts his chapter by providing a passage from “Goodbye to Berlin” to give readers an idea how to introduce a character. David Lodge explains that introducing a character depends on the role of the character being introduced; for example, they could flat, minor, or major characters (Lodge 67). Lodge mentions that the most common way to introduce a character in older fiction is by providing a physical description and giving a biographical summary (68).Although in in modern fiction, the author usually chooses to develop the character throughout the story (69). In modern fiction, the author usually explains the characters actions to let the readers observe the characters sense of personality.
In Paradise of the Blind, the author, Duong Thu Huong begins the story by providing a description on the dressing attire and their obvious body attributes. The very first character introduced is Madame Vera. The author mentions her “enormous old head” and her “cheap perfume”. Later, the readers meet Hang, who is also the main character and narrator. Hang begins the story stating that she is ill and that she walks like a hunchback wearing a very baggy shirt and that it isn’t necessary for her to look good because there are no men who would care to stare. In these two instances, it is obvious that the technique of older fiction is being used due to the describing of character physical appearances.
As the novel progresses, characters in this novel begin to establish themselves more and more. Hang’s personality is developed throughout the novel. She gives the readers glimpses of what she feels and thinks. For example, in the first chapter, Hang stays silent multiple times when being in a conversation with her roommate. This builds up to the characters thoughts and contemplations. Other major characters such as the Aunt Tam and Hang’s mother, Que are being introduced throughout the entire story. With these introduced characters, certain aspects begin to factor into the play, such as jealousy and influence. In chapter 4, Hang states “Since Aunt Tam had come into our life, Mother had stopped doting on me and calling her ‘dear child.’ She had become distant and reserved”. This novel also brings up the idea and mindset of male dominance with certain characters. Uncle Chinh mentions a remark on his sister Que, stating “I cannot have a lousy street vender for a sister”. In this moment of the novel, Uncle Chinh expresses the disgrace in his own family due to their occupation, for he was once a leader in his village that was highly praised.