Some of the most significant recurrent symbols in Paradise of the Blind are blindness, sickness, water and river. Another is sky; it is tied closely to the river symbol. Being fluid symbols, like the fluidity of life, these symbolic representations can vary with different uses: as symbols they can bend just as a river bends, "like there's no river without a bend."
- Blindness: represents an unthinking, unseeing life devoid of analysis and examination ("blind obedience"); represents the way to go, the path to take (blind soothsayer, blind alleys).
- Sickness: represents approaching death and loss of ability to thrive (psychological as well as physical); represents pretense ("Don't tell them I'm sick" "Uncle Chinh wasn't sick").
- Water (a versatile symbol): represents destiny, muddy world condition, blindness (opaque, cinder manteled), cleansing (silk, rice), spiritual cleansing (death ritual), seeing and perceiving (reflection, "liquid mirror"), murder and death (silk worms boiled, suicide by...
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