Literature, Language, and Life

Repetition: Lodge’s ideas applied in ‘Paradise of the Blind’

According to lodge it said to focus on repetition of words and how they can repeat multiple times in short paragraphs. Where he listed two types of words displayed in the novel. Lexical words such as dark, silent, wind was the first type. And the second type was the grammatical words like and, I. I decided to focus on three key points in repetition that held a significant role in the novel. They are memories/incidents, food, and the cripple’s song.

  • There are a few characters in the novel that will help you understand my blog:
  • Main Character: Hang
  • Que: Hang’s Mother
  • Chinh: Hangs uncle
  • Aunt Tam: Hangs aunt (from father side)

Food is something that appears frequently in the novel and we can see it from the first chapter where it has a significant meaning and that it’s a form of human expressions it also conveys the mean of characters’ emotions. An example would be Que working as a street vendor where it quotes “The sound of a pestle crushing crabs for a noodle soup, steam rising from potatoes, the crackling of young rice being roasted to make grilled sticky rice, the smell of Che pudding for the full moon festival each month. Life is all around her, but it was a life that belonged to others” (page 20) Que compares the sounds of life to the sounds of food. It shows her separation from other people due to her lowered financial status. Another example would be Hang and Que visiting her Aunt, Tams exaggerated amounts of food and minor details like the fact that she has multiple bottles and flavors of alcohol to choose from is important as it sheds light on an important character trait, which is her determination and goal of becoming rich. The main character Hang often remembers flashbacks from her past that soon becomes a routine for the reader to get used to. Since the whole novel is based on her point of view. This type of repetition is significant because it relates to feminism. In addition to the narrator trying to make sense of her life, where she talk to herself throughout the novel, which shows some type of internal conflict. An example would be Hang stating “I miss home, something terrible” (page 14) also “I felt chocked with anger” (page 237) Both of these quotes convey to the reader a type of self-recognition of reality. Repetition of the cripple’s song is unique due to its bizarre singer a crippled man. It is significant because it shows Hangs character development throughout the novel. The song goes like this “Hail autumn and its procession of dead leaves, the rows of barren poplars stand silent on the hillside.” (page 111) In the beginning Hang didn’t understand the song lyrics, however later in the novel she develops a perception about it which is leading an unfulfilled life. Where she quotes “you survived life here, but you never really lived it.” (page 235) The song also creates a similar mood of Vietnam specifically the mood in Hanoi, the words dead, barren, and silent convey the lifelessness and oddness in the city. Duong Thu Huong portrayed Hang waking up from a disillusioned  world she’s been living in, and a society that define its norms on females, however she breaks from these chains put on her, and thats how writer shows Feminism at its finest.

-Fatmah Alamoudi

Repetition: Lodge’s ideas applied in ‘Paradise of the Blind’

According to lodge it said to focus on repetition of words and how they can repeat multiple times in short paragraphs. Where he listed two types of words displayed in the novel. Lexical words such as dark, silent, wind was the first type. And the second type was the grammatical words like and, I. I decided to focus on three key points in repetition that held a significant role in the novel. They are memories/incidents, food, and the cripple’s song.

  • There are a few characters in the novel that will help you understand my blog:
  • Main Character: Hang
  • Que: Hang’s Mother
  • Chinh: Hangs uncle
  • Aunt Tam: Hangs aunt (from father side)

Food is something that appears frequently in the novel and we can see it from the first chapter where it has a significant meaning and that it’s a form of human expressions it also conveys the mean of characters’ emotions. An example would be Que working as a street vendor where it quotes “The sound of a pestle crushing crabs for a noodle soup, steam rising from potatoes, the crackling of young rice being roasted to make grilled sticky rice, the smell of Che pudding for the full moon festival each month. Life is all around her, but it was a life that belonged to others” (page 20) Que compares the sounds of life to the sounds of food. It shows her separation from other people due to her lowered financial status. Another example would be Hang and Que visiting her Aunt, Tams exaggerated amounts of food and minor details like the fact that she has multiple bottles and flavors of alcohol to choose from is important as it sheds light on an important character trait, which is her determination and goal of becoming rich. The main character Hang often remembers flashbacks from her past that soon becomes a routine for the reader to get used to. Since the whole novel is based on her point of view. This type of repetition is significant because it relates to feminism. In addition to the narrator trying to make sense of her life, where she talk to herself throughout the novel, which shows some type of internal conflict. An example would be Hang stating “I miss home, something terrible” (page 14) also “I felt chocked with anger” (page 237) Both of these quotes convey to the reader a type of self-recognition of reality. Repetition of the cripple’s song is unique due to its bizarre singer a crippled man. It is significant because it shows Hangs character development throughout the novel. The song goes like this “Hail autumn and its procession of dead leaves, the rows of barren poplars stand silent on the hillside.” (page 111) In the beginning Hang didn’t understand the song lyrics, however later in the novel she develops a perception about it which is leading an unfulfilled life. Where she quotes “you survived life here, but you never really lived it.” (page 235) The song also creates a similar mood of Vietnam specifically the mood in Hanoi, the words dead, barren, and silent convey the lifelessness and oddness in the city. Duong Thu Huong portrayed Hang waking up from a disillusioned  world she’s been living in, and a society that define its norms on females, however she breaks from these chains put on her, and thats how writer shows Feminism at its finest.

-Fatmah Alamoudi

According to lodge it said to focus on repetition of words and how they can repeat multiple times in short paragraphs. Where he listed two types of words displayed in the novel. Lexical words such as dark, silent, wind was the first type. And the second type was the grammatical words like and, I. I decided to focus on three key points in repetition that held a significant role in the novel. They are memories/incidents, food, and the cripple’s song.

  • There are a few characters in the novel that will help you understand my blog:
  • Main Character: Hang
  • Que: Hang’s Mother
  • Chinh: Hangs uncle
  • Aunt Tam: Hangs aunt (from father side)

Food is something that appears frequently in the novel and we can see it from the first chapter where it has a significant meaning and that it’s a form of human expressions it also conveys the mean of characters’ emotions. An example would be Que working as a street vendor where it quotes “The sound of a pestle crushing crabs for a noodle soup, steam rising from potatoes, the crackling of young rice being roasted to make grilled sticky rice, the smell of Che pudding for the full moon festival each month. Life is all around her, but it was a life that belonged to others” (page 20) Que compares the sounds of life to the sounds of food. It shows her separation from other people due to her lowered financial status. Another example would be Hang and Que visiting her Aunt, Tams exaggerated amounts of food and minor details like the fact that she has multiple bottles and flavors of alcohol to choose from is important as it sheds light on an important character trait, which is her determination and goal of becoming rich. The main character Hang often remembers flashbacks from her past that soon becomes a routine for the reader to get used to. Since the whole novel is based on her point of view. This type of repetition is significant because it relates to feminism. In addition to the narrator trying to make sense of her life, where she talk to herself throughout the novel, which shows some type of internal conflict. An example would be Hang stating “I miss home, something terrible” (page 14) also “I felt chocked with anger” (page 237) Both of these quotes convey to the reader a type of self-recognition of reality. Repetition of the cripple’s song is unique due to its bizarre singer a crippled man. It is significant because it shows Hangs character development throughout the novel. The song goes like this “Hail autumn and its procession of dead leaves, the rows of barren poplars stand silent on the hillside.” (page 111) In the beginning Hang didn’t understand the song lyrics, however later in the novel she develops a perception about it which is leading an unfulfilled life. Where she quotes “you survived life here, but you never really lived it.” (page 235) The song also creates a similar mood of Vietnam specifically the mood in Hanoi, the words dead, barren, and silent convey the lifelessness and oddness in the city. Duong Thu Huong portrayed Hang waking up from a disillusioned  world she’s been living in, and a society that define its norms on females, however she breaks from these chains put on her, and thats how writer shows Feminism at its finest.

-Fatmah Alamoudi

Duration [final] / Zahra W

In paradise of the Blind, duration plays a key role in helping the reader better understand the novel. Duration helps the reader better understand significant parts of the story and helps emphasize great meaning. Duration is overall the time span it takes for a certain event to occur and the amount of time during the event that’s taken place.

Duration can be explained in many ways, for example In chapter 41, Lodge addresses the point that duration is “measured by comparing the time events would have taken up in reality, with the time taken to read about them.” This gives a reader a sense of imagination of what the event is vs. the reality of it. The reason this is significant and applies to the book is because it impacts the narrative tempo, which is ‘a novel that is either fast moving or slow moving’. This time frame influences the story because if something very important has occurred over the span of a few years which is then summarized, it would present an image of overlapping reality vs. illusion of the event. This meaning that if the event occurred and incorporated of a long time span, than it could apply as a symbol of significance which applies to reality. Also, an event that has a short time span that creates an image of rapid illusions.

Lodges points also portray the influence of how time span affects the novel to move rapidly from one crisis to another, giving the reader a sense of suspense. This is due to the short amount of time a conflict takes up, when in reality it is supposed to be much longer than what is presented in the novel. This appears to be very crucial because if a certain event in a book is explained, and other events aren’t, then that certain event would withhold something significant that others don’t. Many examples of this is portrayed in Paradise of the Blind, presenting a greater story with an underlying meaning.

Moving on, examples of this in Paradise of the Blind is on page 101 when Hang states and says, “Spring came and went. Summer passed.” Seasons take up a long period of time to pass by, as well as the changes in weather. However, this long time span was summarized into one sentence which presents that the meaning behind it is either significant or not. The reason for this being is because there could be a hidden underlying meaning that is left unsaid, or something that is not very significant which is why it was summarized. This meaning that there is a greater meaning behind what is left unsaid, and what’s behind the unsaid has the greatest potential of all. However, why is it that this impacts the book, Paradise of the Blind. This impacts Paradise of the Blind greatly because of the effect of duration overall. If the event was expressed much longer in the novel than it would present great meaning with something the readers needed to know. This way, the readers would receive great insight about the significant events and pieces that bring the novel together.

Moving on, another example is when a time shift occurs in both the chapters 11 and 12. The realization of the current events overcome what has happened in the past. There are many pages in chapter 11 that explain the current events, however only a few that represent what has occurred in the past. This signifies the importance of the present and future, leaving out what has happened in the past. The realization of the present creates an image of reality in order to focus on what’s happening now or what’s going to happen in the future rather than dwelling on past events. This is important because what is yet to come is strongly held in both the present and future and hang has come to the realization of reality.

In addition to this, a substantial piece of this novel also relates to what was mentioned above. On page 125, Hang mentions “A year passed”, this meaning that the year wasn’t very important because it was summarized and not a lot was mentioned. This in comparison to the time that Hang visited her uncle out of how selfless she was in order to help him wasn’t very significant. This all presents the underlying meaning that although a year passed by, it doesn’t mean that marks of importance were created. This also causes the reader to be intrigued to figure out whether the part of the chapter is either slow moving or fast moving which is how durations affected this part of the novel as well as others. This can also be compared to other stories, for example an event of a marriage that was 12 years long was summarized into one sentence ‘The affair lasted for twelve years and was considered very successful’. As you can see, an important event was summed up with one sentence, that in reality took a time span of 12 years.

In conclusion, as you can see from what is mentioned, sometimes things are better left unsaid nor explained. Things are better left unsaid at times which signifies the events that have taken place in this novel. The question that remains is that why is it known that when an event is summed up, it doesn’t appear to be very significant. What if there is a story behind the truth, and it was thought to be that the truth is better left unsaid. There could be a whole another story that leads into the dimension of ambiguity leaving the reader to think about why certain things were left unsaid or when events moved rapidly with no sense of explanation. This leads to the point that sometimes things are left unsaid because in the end, the lies will always cover the reality and truth. Duration also has the power to present the significance of this by letting the readers decide whether parts of the novel are either slow moving or fast moving based on the type of event. Thus making the event either a strong influence throughout the story, or not. This is how duration impacts the novel overall, forcing the reader to figure out the truth of the story, and why events rapidly move from one to another or just slow down. This than, creating a tunnel of slow events leading to the events that are rapid, leaving the readers to think about the reality of time and how it is positively or negatively affected.

Title According to David Lodge In Relation to Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong (Final)

After exploring David Lodge’s ideas on title, the reader is able to relate his ideas to the title of the infamous novel Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong. Lodge discusses the evolution of titles throughout time, from the beginning of early novels who had titles with main character names, to 19th century novels who had titles with symbolic meaning. Other types of titles include titles who suggest mysterious vibes, set atmospheres, or titles that are matched with literary quotations. After evaluating each type of title the reader is able to identify Paradise of the Blind as a symbolic title due to its intriguing and symbolic meaning.  

David Lodge opens up and explains that “the title of a novel has considerable powers to attract and condition the reader’s attention”. When reading the title, Paradise of the Blind, the reader is amused and questions if the title discusses an actual paradise for blind people or is symbolic for something much greater. After reading and understanding the true meaning of the novel, one is able to synthesis that the “Paradise” suggested in the title is a disillusionment, and is in fact the opposite of a paradise. The communist party attempts at creating a utopian society for  the people of their nation but in reality only create what is a utopia in their eyes. These leaders can be described as selfish, as they only care to benefit themselves. Uncle Chinuh is a great example of a selfish communist as he states “don’t be selfish you must think of the interests of our class” (Huong 31). There is also an ironic statement directed to russia in chapter eleven saying “back home they think russia is a kind of paradise”, which is exactly what communists in Vietnam believe as well. As for the notion “the blind”, the reference is to the communists  leaders, who are blind to the harm that they are causing their nation. The “blind” can also be used to describe the communist believers who are blind to the harm being caused to them. As stated in the translator note of the book “vietnam became a schizophrenic country where people bled white by decades of war, teetering on the edge of starvation, had suddenly to defend themselves against their own leaders, a grasping, hypocritical elite who were blind to their nation’s crisis” (Huong 7).

This displays that the title as presented by David Lodge does have a major impact on the reader’s understanding, and more importantly the power to persuade the reader. The title of the novel Paradise of the Blind clearly depicts this, as it suggests the not so “paradise” that these communist leaders are “blind” to.

Time-Shift Through Lodge’s Main Points and Paradise of the Blind (Final)

Lodge’s main points on time-shift and Paradise of the Blind interrelate, for the reason that many of Lodge’s views are apparent throughout Hang’s “coming of age” story. First, Lodge gives an excellent example of the Odyssey, which can be perceived as comparable to Paradise of the Blind. Moreover, the Odyssey begins in the midst of the main character’s story and later shifts to his early life similar to how Paradise of the Blind begins in the present but shifts to the past throughout the novel (Lodge 75). Second, time-shift allows the reader to extract examples of irony within sections of the text (Lodge 75). Furthermore, this connects to the many instances of irony throughout the time-shift in the novel, where specific events link to both the past and the present. Third, these connections are portrayed throughout the novel as flashbacks from Hang’s past between the past and the present (Lodge 75).

In addition, it is also frequently presented in Hang’s stream of consciousness, or as a reminiscence of her childhood and young adulthood (Lodge 77). In Paradise of the Blind, the “coming of age” story begins in the 1980s following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The very first chapter begins on a Sunday morning with the news of Hang’s seemingly ill uncle, which is delivered to the already ill Hang. Hang then makes the decision of staying at home, but the time suddenly shifts to a flashback of her mother’s home. Still, the novel quickly switches to the present, where Hang does not wish to visit her “sick” uncle, but then the passage skips a day later and suddenly she’s on a train to visit him. This is strange, but perhaps the author wishes for the reader to notice the irony of her decision. Following boarding the train, Hang has a series of flashbacks from her mother’s house and marriage to her father, and even from the official end of the war. Succeeding more flashbacks from her grandmother’s past, Hang recalls her mother’s growing madness regarding the husband she lost at the time of Hang’s birth.

Another evident instance of irony through time-shift in chapter two is when Hang’s mother is declared by her annoyed brother as ill with kidney disease but suddenly appears six months later completely healthy. Ironically, the story later refers to Hang’s memory of when her and her mother are visited by Hang’s uncle in chapter six, who suggests that her mother get a job at the factory so that she wouldn’t spoil his reputation. The last and most major shift is in chapter eleven, which involves Aunt Tam’s death, and it may be true that Aunt Tam only cared that Hang fulfilled the bloodline without considering Hang’s personal opinions. Her funeral shifts from sadness and despair to when Hang suddenly decides to sell Aunt Tam’s house, where she has finally accepted reality and has fulfilled her “coming of age”. According to these examples of time-shift regarding the role of women at the time, it can be concluded that male influence was particularly powerful, even though it destroyed the relationship between Hang and her family. Finally, according to Lodge’s main points on time-shift and Paradise of the Blind, it can be interpreted that Hang shifts through her “coming of age” and experiencing flashbacks until the end of her story, in which she learns to face reality and defy her family bonds by selling her aunt’s home.

 

 

 

A Sense of the Past

The past can highlight the social and cultural changes in a person’s life this is seen in the book when Hang is talking about her mother, Hang says “she wanted me to show the same selflessness, and what I had done? My uncle, her younger brother, -her only brother had asked for my help. He was sick, and here I was preparing to abandon him.” Here Hang shows a change in culture by comparing herself to her mother’s generation, who was caring and altruistic and was used to taking care of the men in their family, and would work to please them. While Hang was more self-caring and didn’t focus so much on the opinion of men.

Authors also use the past to create a sense of nostalgia and humor to keep the reader entertained and intrigued. You can see this on page 13 where Hang’s roommate plays an old record which reminds hang of her life back in Vietnam. Hang says “I saw the roof of the shack in the Hanoi where my mother used to live sheet metal patched together with tar paper. On rainy days the roof leaked and in the summer children played in the filthy black water.”  This gives us a specific illustration of Hang’s old life in Vietnam and that she misses it.

The past is also used to reveal new things about a character and the theme. This is seen in the book when Hang is a child she goes to visit her mother and her friends at their party, and the women begin to make fun of her because she doesn’t have a father. Hang says “I ran into the garden they had mocked me, insulted me, me the fatherless child.” Here we learn a new thing about hang even though the women made fun of her she was still strong enough not to cry. This allows the reader to perceive Hang as a strong and resilient woman. This is also where I started to understand the authors work and how she was trying to convey the idea of feminism. I also learned how women in Vietnam would shame each other if they were different, especially when it came to men. Hang was made fun of because she didn’t have a father and the women thought she would be hopeless without a man.

The past can be used to express Vietnamese culture and role of women during that time. On page 23 Hang’s mother is being told by her brother to forget about her husband because he was apart of the land owning class , and it would go against communist beliefs bringing shame to the family. Because her brother was the eldest male she had to obey his wishes and couldn’t disobey his orders. Here the author shows how the eldest male in the family has the most responsibilities and acts as a leader and has a say in all the decisions made in the family. The harsh nature of Uncle Chinh portrays the strictness of Vietnamese culture.