In Duong Thu Hong’s book, Paradise of the Blind, there is coincidence and the lack of coincidence which has a major impact on the novel. In David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction, there is a chapter dedicated to coincidence. In that chapter, coincidence is “all too obviously a structural device in fiction, and an excessive reliance on it can jeopardize the verisimilitude of a narrative.” (Lodge 150) According to Lodge, the author defines coincidence is a device in fiction. The author believes that using coincidence too much can take away from the meaning of the story rather than adding to it.
This story has coincidence and the lack of it. There are numerous incidents of coincidence in the first five chapters. The major coincidence that occurred was Hang’s parents meeting for the first time. Hang’s mom and dad, whose name is Ton, were both lonely after the death of their parents. This is why when they found each other, they were immediately attracted to each other. In Chapter 2, a neighbor tells Hang, “She wasn’t frightened. She was bored. That’s why she couldn’t wait till the end of the mourning period to marry handsome Ton.” (Hong, 17) When the neighbor said this statement, Hang was confused because her mother had never told her anything about her father. They end up getting married but a few years later, he fled the village because of the humiliation he received from his in-laws. He bounced around for a while and he finally settled down with a family. The family was forced to hide him because of the revolution that was going on which targeted exploiters such as Hang’s dad. About six years later, the family was forced to kick Ton out of the house. The family told Ton, “Master, leave quickly, we beg you. We know this is ungracious. But take pity on us,” (Hang 61) The family felt bad, but they had no choice.
The coincidence was the meeting of Hang’s parents, but their meeting again was the turning point. As a result, Ton was forced to go somewhere else. Ton ends up marrying the daughter of the prime minister which earns him a higher ranking in the village. There he encounters a salesman who he befriends. The salesman tells Ton about the horrific things his village faced. Ton started feeling guilty, so he went back to his first wife. He goes back to his village and reunites with his wife. Nine months later, Hang is born.
The lack of coincidence is also addressed. Lodge writes, “The frequency of coincidence in fictional plots varies with genre as well as period and is related to how much the writer feels he can “get away with” in this respect.” (Lodge 151) Here, Lodge is writing about how coincidence should be limited. Too much of it can be detrimental and take away the meaning of the writing.
This is significant because without this coincidence, the other coincidences would not have happened. This book is formatted as a cause and effect. If the cause is not there, then the effect would not make sense and vice versa. Hang’s parents met and the effect of that was Hang’s birth.
Hang makes decisions that can be argued as the effect of these coincidences. If these coincidences would have not happened, this story would have probably not been written and we would have not been reading this now.