Jose Saramago's Blindness

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When defining the word blindness, it can be interpreted in various ways. Either it can be explained as sightless, or it can be carefully deciphered as having a more complex in-depth analysis. In the novel Blindness, Jose Saramago depicts and demonstrates how in an instant your right to see can be taken in an instant. However, in this novel, blindness is metaphorically related to ‘seeing’ the truth beyond our own bias opinions.

Saramago’s novel clearly illustrates themes that describe the importance of the awareness of others, in terms of feeling oppressed by fear, lack of trust, dehumanization, and segregation. He describes in full detail the importance of the government’s involvement in the lives of the blind victims, which allows the reader to understand and recognize our own societal misfortunes in health care, as well as other world problems. For example, our government allows Hispanic women to be eligible for “Medicaid or state-sponsored child health insurance programs, yet many Hispanic American families fear that enrolling family members in such plans could be used against them when they apply for citizenship” (Minority Women’s Health). Not only are Hispanic Americans afraid of getting ill while without health care, but they also fear that having health insurance could devastate their chances of acquiring a citizenship. Moreover, the government is obviously not seeing the pain and suffering through the eyes of the less fortunate, and in turn robs them of their freedom and vulnerability for being in a lower class.

In Saramago’s novel, the government’s commands, instant decisions, and fears about the blind epidemic is what the blind infected, vulnerable characters are terrified about the most. “Look here, blind man, let me tell you something, either the two of you get back to where you came from, or you’ll be shot […] they’re terrified and are only obeying orders” (63). With a large number of people going blind quickly and with no apparent cause, public health officials’ panic and the blind internees are not only afraid for their lives in terms of their sickness, but they are also terrified of the government’s command to shoot and kill the infected internees. The most important things in life is not power and the ability to instill fear on others, it is compassion, love, and understanding. Without these three qualities, we become blind t...

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...and can be set aside, has an absurd psychological way of thinking. People should not devalue others’ because they are “weaker,” or “different” from him/her.

“Fear can cause blindness, said the girl with the dark glasses, Never a truer word, that could not be truer, we were already blind the moment we turned blind, fear struck us blind, fear will keep us blind” (Saramago 129). In today’s society, people are more concerned with their own “little world,” rather than looking at the extensive perspective of life. One reason why people can sometimes be classified as being “blind” is because people fear the unknown, and rejects the unfamiliar. Many people are not comfortable with stepping out of their shell and exploring their surroundings, let alone trying to look through the eyes of the segregated minority. In the novel Blindness, Jose Saramago metaphorically uses the word “blindness” as a term meaning, the truth that we cannot bear to see. To avoid the outside world, many people tend to shelter themselves from the obvious reality, and tend to focus of their “own” meaning of reality. However, when our vision is stripped from our secluded selves, reality is all you can truly “see.”
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