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Defamiliarization in Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong

Defamiliarization is defined by Lodge to be “defining a common known term or idea in a way that seems unknown and new”. The essential purpose of this method is to overcome the deadening effect of habit and to freshen the concept. When the reader is too familiar to a concept, he/she skims past it, missing it’s importance. Furthermore, Lodge states that defamiliarization allows the reader to see the traits and characteristics of the characters. In Paradise of the Blind, Hang’s character is enhanced when the author uses defamiliarization. Defamiliarization is also explained by Lodge as not only possibly explaining one concept, but creating a transition into another concept.

Huong provided the reader with many examples of defamiliarization for the reader to make connections to the protagonist, Hang, and to understand the protagonist’s similarities to Huong. Huong does so in two main parts of the book, and without these examples of defamiliarization a large portion of the meaning would be lost. In the first example, Huong defamiliarizes the concept of land reform and allows the reader to understand the problems that had come with land reform. Furthermore, Huong defamiliarizes the misunderstandings that occurred when people were considered peasants. This occurs in the conversation between  Hang’s uncle and her mother. Through this conversation we understand not only the socio-economical class that Hang’s family is put into by society. We also further understand the political perspective of people who were similar to Hang’s family at that time. Under this umbrella of confusion, Hang’s mother states that the rich had never shown any evil and sinister characteristics. (Huong, Duong 22-23)

The second major example of defamiliarization is in the end of the book when Hang begins self analyzing what had occurred and what is to come in the future. She begins picturing herself in a heaven with “comets extinguishing themselves” (Huong, Duong 258). Huong, the author, further defamiliarizes the concept of reaching a brighter more progressive future. Hang, the protagonist, begins to have this personal conflict and begins to show traits found in Huong. Hang is questioning the past and begins recalling her memories. She states, “I can’t squander my life tendinding these faded flowers….The legacy of past crimes”. Hang wishes that she could just cover up the evils of the past with “flowers”. Huong creates a connection between the grave of a dead loved one covered with flowers to shadowing the crimes that had been committed. This connection enhanced the defamiliarization, allowing us to understand Hang as a character.

The use of defamiliarization by Huong enhances not only the understanding in regards to the plot of the book, but the characteristics of Hang as a character. Huong provides the reader with two strong examples that allow the reader to see how influential defamiliarization is when political concepts are being discussed.

Interior Monologue, as described by Lodge, in Paradise of the Blind -Bijan A [FINAL]

Interior Monologue is a form of first person narration that focuses on the character’s thoughts to create a sense of intimacy between the reader and the protagonist. When used poorly, interior monologue can easily slow the pace of a novel and fill the texts with useless information. This is why interior monologue is paired with a variety of styles and devices to create a unique and interesting style that enhances the journey of the reader.

In the sample work given, Lodge shows us a work by the author (James Joyce), in which he introduces to the characters not by telling the reader about them but by sharing their inner thoughts (pg. 47).  The process introducing ideas that everybody knows by describing them first and then giving them a name, to keep the audience in the dark and lead them on the same journey of discovery as the character, is called defamiliarization. It is a useful tool that makes the novel more immersive.

Defamiliarization was expertly used by the author of Paradise of the Blind, by flashing back to the childhood of protagonist and then introducing the reader to common place ideas as the protagonist was. She did this with some simple items, like the rice cakes or basic manners, but she also does it incredibly well, in showing more complex, adult ideas, like the shaming of the protagonists mother,  The flashbacks put us in the shoes of the character at the time of the occurrence of the events, even if they character themselves wasn’t present at the event.

Interior monologue can be woven into commonplace third person narration to create snippets of the protagonist’s mind (pg. 48-49). Pairing this with a disjointed narrative style that mimics the nature of human thought creates a flowing narrative that has a unique and distinct style that matches the complex and instinctive thought process of the human mind.

The snippets also serve to develop character, by indicating the thought process behind a character’s actions. The character refusing to open a door is an innocuous, meaningless action but when the interior monologue reveals that he refuses to do so in order to not wake his wife, his actions take on a new meaning. The provide character traits in a unique and immersive manner (pg 49).  It can also establish the background of the character, in terms of education or lifestyle. When a character struggles to name or identify a well known principle, it can establish their status as an uneducated or poor individual, because of their inability to come up with the words to describe something simple.

There are many times when the narrator retells stories that she was told as a child. Even here, the stories are clearly filtered through the mind of the character as a child, with points of confusion, strong emotion, and fear shining through otherwise normal events.  When she is told of her fathers history with the town, the emotion of a child hearing about her Mother’s suffering shines through the story’s retelling. This creates the sense of immersion in the understanding of events that stimulates being told the story as a child.

Interior Monologue is also used incredibly effectively to connect flashbacks to the present, by using seemingly random, unrelated events to trigger a memory. This mimics reality, where everyday objects can remind us of our past and our history, and it allows the reader to latch on to the thought process of the protagonist in an unparalleled manner, travelling their memories and their imaginations to enhance the narrative structure (pg. 49).

In Paradise of the Blind, no cue is given for the transition between times. Instead, the transition comes from mundane events that sometimes trigger memories of the past. The boarding of a train brings the character to return to her times abroad with her roommate, expertly identifying the types of connections that the human mind makes without wasting a single word. The interior monologue of the character essentially latches us on to her train of thought, meaning what triggers her flashback connects us to the past event as well.

Interior Monologue, as described by Lodge – Bijan A

Interior Monologue is a form of first person narration that focuses on the character’s thoughts to create a sense of intimacy between the reader and the protagonist. When used poorly, interior monologue can easily slow the pace of a novel and fill the texts with useless information. This is why interior monologue is paired with a variety of styles and devices to create a unique and interesting style that enhances the journey of the reader.

In the sample work given, Lodge shows us a work by the author (James Joyce), in which he introduces to the characters not by telling the reader about them but by sharing their inner thoughts (pg. 47).  The process introducing ideas that everybody knows by describing them first and then giving them a name, to keep the audience in the dark and lead them on the same journey of discovery as the character, is called defamiliarization. It is a useful tool that makes the novel more immersive.

Interior monologue can be woven into commonplace third person narration to create snippets of the protagonist’s mind (pg. 48-49). Pairing this with a disjointed narrative style that mimics the nature of human thought creates a flowing narrative that has a unique and distinct style that matches the complex and instinctive thought process of the human mind.

The snippets also serve to develop character, by indicating the thought process behind a character’s actions. The character refusing to open a door is an innocuous, meaningless action but when the interior monologue reveals that he refuses to do so in order to not wake his wife, his actions take on a new meaning. The provide character traits in a unique and immersive manner (pg 49).  It can also establish the background of the character, in terms of education or lifestyle. When a character struggles to name or identify a well known principle, it can establish their status as an uneducated or poor individual, because of their inability to come up with the words to describe something simple.

Interior Monologue is also used incredibly effectively to connect flashbacks to the present, by using seemingly random, unrelated events to trigger a memory. This mimics reality, where everyday objects can remind us of our past and our history, and it allows the reader to latch on to the thought process of the protagonist in an unparalleled manner, travelling their memories and their imaginations to enhance the narrative structure (pg. 49).

Interior Monologue can also be used to shift the focus of the work by shifting the focus onto a specific character, to bring their story and their struggles into the fold. It is the mark of a capable writer to show a variety of unique character styles of thought and rationale, placing the reader in the middle of each person’s thoughts and showing the development of the character by this means (pg. 50-51)