In Paradise of the Blind, Duong shapes the setting to convey the significance of the global issue of the abuse of power.
The Communists who have seized power in Vietnam after the departure of American forces claim to want to liberate their people. After years of French colonial rule and the rule of governments friendly to the United States, the Communists believe that they have proved themselves to be the forces of national liberation and that they have freed the Vietnamese people from colonialism.
However, Duong, in her portrayal of Communist functionaries such as Uncle Chinh, uses the setting of postwar Vietnam to drive home the very important message that power can so easily be abused, even by those who wax lyrical about the emancipation of the people.
In Duong's novel, Vietnam becomes a place beset by social and economic problems, most of which are either caused or exacerbated by the new Communist regime. Above all, the government has abused its power, which in the process leaves the Vietnamese people subjected to grinding poverty and repression.
When the setting of the novel shifts to the USSR, we see much the same dynamic at work. Here, Hang is almost certainly raped as a consequence of Uncle Chinh's actions, reinforcing the central theme of how power is abused by those who have it, even if they are ostensibly committed to an emancipatory ideology.