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The Roles Of Food In Paradise Of The Blind

1331 words - 5 pages

Set in the 1980s, Duong Thu Huong's 'Paradise of the Blind' narrates the life of a 20 years old Vietnamese lady, Hang, as she makes a long train ride to Moscow where she reflects on her childhood in Vietnam during the time of Communist reign. Throughout the novel, Huong conveys the story in the perspective of Hang using different motifs. Unquestionably, one such motif is the use food, which is recurrent and significant. In the two selected passages from Paradise of the Blind, Huong emphasizes that food, which reveals one's status in the hierarchy of the social order, is often a powerful form of human expression that is used to quantify one's love and respect from others, specifically among family members.In both passages, food is carried out as a representation of one's social status in the hierarchy present in Vietnam during the times of the revolution. In the first passage, Aunt Tam hosts a huge banquet celebrating Hang's entry into university. With regard to guests attending the feast, Aunt Tam claims that "[t]here are going to be a lot of guests" (146), many of which are "important people in [the] village" (147) such as Duong, the vice president. From this passage, her high and respectable status in the society is revealed. In comparison with other paragraphs in the passage, Huong has written an oddly long paragraph with great amount of details in describing the luxury food offered in the banquet. This suggests the emphasis to the readers that only people of a higher class can enjoy the diverse delicious Vietnamese food. Contrasting from that, during the time when Aunt Tam was denounced, she has to sell cheap food for survival. Thus, the motif of food is significant towards the character development of Aunt Tam, as it is the main cause she is able to regain the wealth and reputable status, which she now obtains. Additionally, Aunt Tam is neither hosting any feast nor a dinner but rather a 'banquet'. The diction employed suggests a much of a higher class and formal event, once again reminding readers the high standing of Aunt Tam, as well as her stable and good quality of life. Therefore, the recurring usage of food symbolizes different status in society and financial position of people during the setting of the book.Similarly, the motif of food is present in the second passage to exemplify the social class of the characters. However, the representation leans towards the lower end of the hierarchy, illustrating the situation within poor financial famalies. When Chinh falls ill with diabetes, Que provides him with food and medicine, which causes "[their] meals to shrink by the day" (179). Totally contrary to the first passage, Que and Hang do not even have enough money to eat a decent healthy meal. In "[m]ost days, all [they] ate were cheap greens. In the end, [they] just a bit of minced banana stalk." (179) It has been clear that as the financial position of Hang and Que decreases, the food that they eat are greatly affected as well. In the...

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