Paradise of the Blind

by Duong Thu Huong, Thu Huong Duong

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Paradise of the Blind has three main settings: Hanoi, the countryside village, and Russia. How do the respective settings assist in meaning and character development?

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The three settings in Duong Thu Huong's novel Paradise of the BlindHanoi, the village, and Russia—all offer the characters new challenges that help them grow and that forward the story's plot. Let's explore how this works in more detail.

Hanoi is the city in which Hang grows up. Her mother, Que, works as a merchant there, and Hang feels comfortable in the city for the most part. She has a chance to go to school, but money becomes tight when Que insists upon feeding her brother, Chinh, and his family. Life in Hanoi is a strange mix of modern and traditional, but it is, for the most part, the only life Hang knows.

The family's heritage, however, is in the village. Que grew up in the old village, and she met Ton there. After liberation, however, Chinh returned and participated in the land reform that deprives Ton and his family of their land. Ton was forced to flee, and he and Que got separated even though they were married. At this point, Que sold her ancestral home and moved to Hanoi. Yet she later returned to the village and met Ton again. He had married another woman, but he still loved Que, and they renewed their intimacy. The result was Hang. Ton's second wife, however, refused to let go of Ton, and he committed suicide. The village, then, provides Hang with her heritage.

The village also provides Hang with her inheritance, which she receives from her Aunt Tam, who gives her jewelry and large amounts of food. Que gives much of that food to her brother, however, which makes Hang and Aunt Tam upset.

Eventually, Que kicks Hang out of the house, and Hang eventually has to move to Russia, where she works to support her mother after Que gets hit by a car and loses her leg. Russia, then, becomes a place of exile in a way. Chinh, however, exploits Hang even there as he uses her to sell goods on the black market. Hang eventually receives her inheritance in full when Aunt Tam dies, and she does not really want to remain in the village, in Hanoi, or in Russia. Rather, she wants to travel far away and begin a new life.

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