Lodge distinguishes between different types of irony, he defines one as using words that have both superficial meanings and contradictory deeper meanings (lodge 179). Paradise of the Blind makes extensive use of irony to help the reader understand the background and history of the relationship between Russia and Vietnam. The title of the book Paradise of the Blind is a form of irony, due to the fact that the reader knows the book is set in the restrictive conditions of communist Russia and Vietnam, which is hardly a paradise. The characters struggle against hunger and poverty as a result of the communist regime, even though they’re promised a better life. Moreover, the characters are to a certain extent blinded because they cannot see outside of their own experiences. For example, uncle Chinh strongly believes in the rhetoric of the party and cannot see the negative effects it is having on his family and community. Verbal irony is also used throughout the book, for example, when Hang is reminiscing about her uncle the author describes two peasants as “Pillars of the land reform” (Huong 25). Both peasants were disreputable, one was vagabond and the other a thief and a glutton. This is ironic to see dishonorable people being described as pillars of the new regime. We begin to see that the interests of the peasants aren’t at the forefront of the communists’ concerns.
Lodge identifies another type of irony, “Dramatic irony” which is generated when the reader knows the difference between their awareness or prior knowledge of situations, and the characters understanding of it (Lodge 179). One of the major ironies of this story is that all of the characters believed that they were moving towards a brighter future in some way, but the reality of post war Vietnam was the negatives of communism. Uncle Chinh truly believes that he is making Vietnam a better place, despite evidence to the contrary and unhappiness of his family. In contrast, Hangs mother always adheres to the cultural norms of an obedient Vietnamese women, like taking others into account and always obeying the males in her family. However, this does not bring her happiness and ironically causes much of her suffering. Lodge explains how irony can be subtle or obvious (Lodge 180). For example, the irony of communism is very overt, and the irony in the familial relationships in the book are much subtler and nuanced.
Learning about Lodges different definitions of irony helps the reader have a greater understanding of Paradise of the Blind and the real world events upon which the book is based. The verbal and dramatic irony contribute to a setting that the reader can contrast with their knowledge of the time period. The conflicts the characters’ encounter are easier to relate to because of the ironic way in which they’re are presented.