Paradise of the Blind

by Duong Thu Huong, Thu Huong Duong

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Describe specific instances where Duong's portrayal of Vietnam is shown to be negative in Paradise of the Blind. How does this portrayal enhance Duong's intention in establishing the setting?

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Duong's portrayal of Vietnam is shown to be negative early on in Paradise of the Blind, where Hang's uncle Chinh, a hardline Communist, tells his sister Que that she must not speak to or have any further contact with her husband, Ton.

This is because, as Chinh explains, Ton is an exploiter who hails from a family of landlords. The Vietnamese Communists have embarked upon a radical program of land reform which, among other things, involves categorizing the population in terms of class. Uncle Chinh has been asked to lead the reform program in his area and, as part of his job, has identified Ton as an exploiter.

In practical terms, as Chinh tells Que, this will involve forcing so-called exploiters and class enemies like Ton to kneel down in front of their peasant compatriots and confess their alleged sins. Que protests that Ton has always lived in peace with everyone, but Chinh is such a fanatic that he isn't interested in what she has to say. As far as he's concerned, the landowning classes must be crushed as part of the radical land reform program.

This particular scene could not give a more negative portrayal of Vietnam. It illustrates how extremist ideology has driven a wedge between people, sowing conflict between classes and even members of the same family.

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