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Paradise of the Blind
Transcript of Paradise of the Blind
By: Patrick, Nick, Max, Justin, and Jean-Marc
Two women in Hang’s life
Hang’s relationship with her mother: More attention is based on her cousins and uncle‘s family, relationship weakens, loyalty is required.
Giving up (Staying with her mother): Gifts, appreciation (to some degree), hardship, family conflict, no time to spend when street vending.
In Paradise of the Blind, by Duong Thu Huong, the importance of a maternal figure in society is illustrated through Huong’s depiction of Que. By analyzing the actions of Que, her maternal instincts are shown at times to be very strong while lacking at other times.
Que- her mother
Aunt Tam- Ton’s sister
Women follow roles based on Confucianism
Bryan Aubrey explained, “During Hang’s early childhood, the natural love between mother and daughter prevails, but as Hang grows older a distance springs up between them. Hang loses respect for her mother because of the way Que always seeks the approval of Chinh…”
This explanation of the relationship between Hang and Que was very straight forward. It showed how Que’s struggle to satisfy the needs of her brother became the center of her life. This is what caused the major conflict between Que and Hang. Hang saw her mother’s actions to be very selfish after what Chinh had done to their family, in particular Hang’s father. By writing this section of the novel the way that she did, Huong shows just how controlling the social customs of Vietnam were. The ideas that women must be subversive to men and constantly support them is uprooted in the novel and criticized at times as well.
Aunt Tam presents a maternal figure that is opposite to Que
Bryan Aubrey explained, “Aunt Tam presents another possible model for Hang. She is formidable, independent, wealthy woman who has succeeded by sheer hard work, and she lavishes her love on Hang as her closest surviving blood relative.”
This portrayal of Aunt Tam goes to show just how important she was to Hang’s life. Aunt Tam presented a figure to Hang that was everything that her mother was not. This appealed to Hang and I why the relationship between them became such a strong bond. Huong used the character of Aunt Tam in order to show what she believed women should become in Vietnamese culture. By doing this, she was setting an example for women to be inspired by reading this novel.
Hang’s relationship with Aunt Tam: Burdened by a life of luxury, appreciated, banquets, college gifts, visits. Giving up (Staying with her Aunt): Loss of relationship with her only mother.
Conclusion: Benefits outweighed the costs for Hang to stand by her Aunt Tam’s side. So ultimately, that’s what she did. Culturally, it was essential to be loyal and respectful to your birth mother. However, remaining with her mother would require Hang to endure constant anger and oppression from her family and the less fortunate reality of Vietnamese culture/society.
“I said nothing, paralyzed with my own anger. I was envious of these cousins, but I couldn’t bring myself to like them, let alone their parents.” (Pg. 114)
“I didn’t understand this family. I had no desire to ever return to this place. From then on, my mother went alone”. (Pg. 125)
“She stayed at our house during my examination period, fussing and spoiling me, fixing all of my meals.” (Pg. 134, referencing Aunt Tam)
“She pulled a wad of bills from her pocket. This, this is for traveling.” (Pg. 135)
Hope you enjoyed our presentation
Huong uses allusions to further explain Hang's loss of a role model
Each plant its own little slug
Comparing how Hang's appearance resembles her father
Comparing how lonely Aunt Tam is to Hang's future of being alone and continuing her pain of wanting her father
This is done by the contrast of Que and Aunt Tam and how they raise Hang. A few great examples from our reading are:
Tam celebrates Hangs success at getting into a university while Que pushes it aside
Que sees taking care of Tuan and Thu as a higher obligation than Hang
Hang wanted her mother’s love while Que wanted to be accepted by Chinh’s family
Aunt Tam spoils Hang with items she does not necessarily require while Que has difficulty providing Hang with necessities.
Willing to make sacrifices
Not wise with money
Lack of shame (due to how she is okay with humiliating herself in order to provide for Chinh’s children)
Caring to an extent ( for Hang more than what is necessary)
Confidence (shown from her ability to tease the vice president without worry of consequences)
Hang’s maternal instincts are unstable because of the demands from her aunt Tam and her uncle Chinh as well as the misplacement of maternal care to the wrong people.
“Hang must free herself from the demands made upon her by both paternal aunt and maternal uncle.”
“two women, mother and aunt, each with a significant brother, control the direction of Hang’s life by commanding her loyalty and affection.”
“Traditionalist Que’s persistent blind devotion to her morally bankrupt, preying brother, simply because he is her younger sibling, for whom she feels a maternal responsibility, alienates the equally traditionalist Aunt Tam…”
Political unrest during time of novel and during her life time
imagery and realism