“The Country of the Blind” H. G. Wells

While attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl, a mountain in Ecuador, Nunez falls down the far side of the mountain. At the end of his descent, he finds a valley cut off from the rest of the world. He has discovered the fabled Country of the Blind.

The valley had been a haven for settlers escaping from the tyranny of Spanish rulers until an earthquake redesigned the surrounding mountains and cut it off forever from future explorers. The isolated community prospered over the years despite a disease that struck them early on, rendering all new-borns blind. As the blindness slowly spread over the generations, their remaining senses sharpened, and by the time the last sighted villager had died, the community had fully adapted to life without sight. Nunez descends into the valley and finds an unusual village with windowless houses and a network of paths.

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He realises that he can teach and rule them. But the villagers have no concept of sight and do not understand his attempts to explain this fifth sense to them. Nunez becomes angry but they calm him and he submits to their way of life because returning to the outside world is impossible. Nunez is assigned to work for a villager named Yacob, and becomes attracted to Yacob’s youngest daughter, Medina-Sarote. Nunez slowly starts trying to explain sight to her. Medina-Sarote, however, simply dismisses it as his imagination. When Nunez asks to marry, the village elders refuse him because of his obsession with “sight”.

The village doctor suggests that Nunez’s eyes be removed, claiming that they are diseased and are affecting his brain. Nunez reluctantly consents to the operation because of his love for Medina-Sarote. But at sunrise on the day of the operation, while all the villagers are asleep, Nunez, the failed King of the Blind, sets off for the mountains, hoping to find a passage to the outside world and escape the valley, but becomes trapped in the mountains, which ultimately leads to his death.

This story is quite strange. I didn’t like it very much because the setting is so imaginary that it’s hard to find it realistic. Anyway, it finally says that being the king of a village is not so fantastic, especially if all the people are blind. In fact, he was supposed to be mad when he told them what sight was.

The story can be read as a denunciation of the European blindness towards the South American different culture happened during the settlement of that area. In fact, the village told in the story was the only one that kept the old manner of the native people. However, I think that this interpretation given to the story is quite forced.

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“The Country of the Blind” H. G. Wells. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/country-of-the-blind/