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In this extract from the novel, Paradise of the Blind, by Duong Thu Huong, the author explores the importance of culture and tradition within the text. The extract is set in the slums of Hanoi,

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In this extract from the novel, Paradise of the Blind, by Duong Thu Huong, the author explores the importance of culture and tradition within the text. The extract is set in the slums of Hanoi, Vietnam during the war and outlines the lifestyle of main character Hang, her mother and relatives at this time. Through first person narration, Huong details the personalities of and relationships between Hang and her relatives - in particular, Uncle Chinh, mother Que and Aunt Tam, illustrating the struggles and hardships experienced by the Vietnamese to display the importance of family within Vietnamese culture. Using symbolism of material wealth and food as a means to show the expression of love that Que has for Uncle Chinh and Aunt Tam for Hang, Huong effectively portrays the customs and beliefs of Vietnam at the time of the book. The setting of the text is clearly established through numerous amounts of cultural motifs presented within the extract in order to accentuate the importance of tradition. The existence of a communist government alongside the celebration of "Tet" - Vietnamese New Year, is highly significant in emphasising the placement of this text in Vietnam. "The house, the clothes, the food. These people are incapable of tolerating even the slightest difference. So you see, a little bit more money, a nicer bowl ... ...read more.


To Aunt Tam, family is a number one priority and since the loss of her beloved brother; she constantly dotes on his daughter who reminds her of him. Her comparison of Hang and her father to a slug and a plant is a metaphor used by the author to further emphasise the blood ties between Hang and her father, and consequently also Aunt Tam. The majority of interaction in the extract between Hang and Aunt Tam in the extract is contrasted to the amount of interaction between Hang and her mother in order to show the close relationship that Hang and her aunt share. As a result of Hang being well cared for by Aunt Tam, Que similarly makes it her duty to help her brother live with the basic necessities of life because he is her only other blood relation, showing the importance of family in the text. "But a few days later she sewed herself exactly the same suit her sister-in-law wore. She put it on every time she visited Commune Residence K. When she returned, she seemed more cheerful, more relaxed." (125) Que's sewing of a new outfit for her frequent visits to the commune residence where Chinh stays displays the amount of effort and consideration she gives in order to be accepted by his family. ...read more.


Aunt Tam's love for Hang is similarly represented through her provision of a great Tet banquet for Hang. She cares extensively only for Hang, looking after her health and spoiling her, allowing her to live a better standard of living than her mother. "As for the young hens, these are for you, Hang. You'll have to steam them. Now that you're a teenager, you must eat right, round out a bit." (126) The symbol of food is once again used to represent Aunt Tam's care for Hang, however no food is presented to Que, showing that Aunt Tam and Hang's mother do not share a close relationship. Aunt Tam addresses Hang as the receiver of her gifts and through this symbol of food during Tet, the author leads the reader to see Aunt Tam's affection for Hang showing the importance of culture and family in the text. Within this extract from the novel Paradise of the Blind, by Duong Thu Huong the author portrays the importance of culture and tradition. Through representations of relationships between Uncle Chinh's family, Hang and her mother, emphasis is placed on the significance of customs and beliefs. Using first person narration, the author positions the reader to see the relationships between characters Hang and her family in the text through the symbolism of food and material wealth, successfully emphasising Vietnamese tradition in the text. ...read more.

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