Paradise of the Blind

by Duong Thu Huong, Thu Huong Duong

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What does "hell's money has no value in the market of life" mean in Duong Thu Huong's Paradise of the Blind?

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On the last page of Paradise of the Blind, Hang’s impressions of the skies reflect her thoughts about the passage of time and her determination not to waste any more. As she looks up at the stars, she thinks about a comet; using a simile, she compares it to the ephemeral quality of her life passing by. She decides that she has squandered too much of her life, and resolves not to continue on that futile path.

In dismissing the value of “hell’s money,” Hang is noting how ill-gotten gains make a poor foundation for a moral life, such as she now wants to lead. On the previous pages, she had tried to get money to hold a religious commemorative ceremony, but she abandons this plan. Her emotional connection with mortality stimulates her conviction that she can continue to honor those who have died but should do so honestly, not with the hypocrisy of placing some flowers on their graves.

At the end of the novel, Hang’s reflections on images of her homeland make her realize the vast differences that had developed between reality and memory. The contrast between what she sees in Russia and remembers about Vietnam spark her decision to return home and start over.

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