Paradise of the Blind

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Work in Translation
Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong
Final Draft

Name: Chung Yee, Lee
Candidate number: 003072-225
Year 11
QASMT
Teacher: Ms Jennifer Russel
Word Count: 1477

Work in Translation
Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong

In the novel, Paradise of the Blind, written by Duong Thu Huong originally in Vietnamese and translated into English by Phan Huy Duong and Nina Mcpherson, the author constructs characters Aunt Tam and Uncle Chinh as analogs of conflicting political ideologies of 20th century Vietnam in order to display her opinions on its effectiveness in attaining proclaimed paradise. The characters are constructed to differently express the author’s voice towards extremist ideologies, Uncle Chinh representing the communist ideology, and Aunt Tam representing the capitalist ideologies.

Uncle Chinh, within the novel, has been classified as an epitome of communism, and primarily constructed as a authoritative figure with an antagonistic nature. “He was intoxicated with himself. His satisfaction was that of a creeping parasitic vine.” (Hang, page 26). Duong demonstrates her opinion towards Uncle Chinh’s power lust through the diction within the phrase “intoxicated” and “parasitic vine”, providing her criticism towards his nature. His contribution towards the communist ideologies reasoned with its potential to elevate him towards a higher position in the party, which was provisional towards his characterised greedy nature. The hypocrisy within the execution of the communist ideology could be represented within Uncle Chinh’s actions of greed and power lust within the play, which defies the moneyless and classless movement of communism. Manipulation of Que, Uncle Chinh’s kin sister within the novel represented his power lust. “You realise that you’re sabotaging my authority.” (Chinh, page 32). In order to represent the hypocrisy of Uncle Chinh, the author had utilised the relationship between Uncle Chinh and his sister, Que, to be analogous to the relationship of authority and the peasant in the Vietnamese communist environment of the 20th century. Uncle Chinh’s assertive tone of speech was a technique used by the author to represent his extent of dominance over Que, as an imbalance of power, constructing a hierarchal relationship. The author’s use of diction in the phrase, “my authority” represented Uncle Chinh’s thirst for power and through the word “my” hints place an emphasis on Uncle Chinh’s selfish considerations towards the intended audience. Uncle Chinh was portrayed to be more concerned of his own reputation and authority than the well-being of his sister, which symbolises appointment of weak authority figures. Uncle Chinh, was an analog for the appointed authority figure in Vietnam that came into power in the defiance against their own parties’ interest, enforcing the communist ways. The repression of Que, whom represented the peasantry for Uncle Chinh’s own selfish desires and eventually lead to Que’s vulnerable state, as she concludes with loss of limb. The author constructs the event of the loss of limb is symbolic within the novel in portraying the effect of communist ideologies of the peasantry, that it had stripped them away from their firm position within the society, and in turn, created disability within their lives. The author has characterised Uncle Chinh to represent the yearning for a paradise through communism. “They don’t know what heaven is made of, let alone how to get there… they are their own tragedy, ours as well.” (Travelling Companion, page 225). Duong, through the travelling companion, gave her opinion on the reason on the reason behind Uncle Chinh’s failure in succession in the communist party, which could be translated as her symbolic meaning behind the reason for the actual failure of the communist ideology in the Vietnamese culture. “Heaven” within the quote is a representation of the supposed future of communism, has similar meanings with the...
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