Metaphorical Blindness in the Novel by Jose Saramago

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When it comes to defining blindness, there are various interpretations. It can refer to the absence of sight or entail a more intricate understanding. In his book, Blindness, Jose Saramago demonstrates and depicts the sudden deprivation of one’s visual capacity.

In this novel, blindness symbolizes perceiving the truth beyond our own biased opinions. Saramago’s novel effectively portrays themes highlighting the significance of understanding others who experience oppression due to fear, lack of trust, dehumanization, and segregation.

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The author emphasizes the significance of government involvement in the lives of blind victims, providing extensive details. This aids readers in comprehending and relating to healthcare issues and other global problems within our society. As an example, Hispanic women are granted eligibility for Medicaid or state-sponsored child health insurance programs by our government. Nevertheless, numerous Hispanic American families are reluctant to enroll their family members in these plans due to concerns that it may adversely affect their chances of obtaining citizenship (Minority Womens Health). Not only do Hispanic Americans fret about becoming ill without access to healthcare, but they also have apprehensions that having health insurance could hinder their path towards citizenship.

In addition, the government exhibits a lack of compassion for those who are less fortunate, disregarding their suffering and pain. This results in the denial of their freedom and exposes their vulnerability due to their lower social status. In Saramago’s novel, the blind characters who are infected and vulnerable express extreme fear towards the government’s demands, impulsive decisions, and anxieties surrounding the blind epidemic. The characters experience terror as they are given an ultimatum by the government: “Listen closely, blind man, let me inform you that either you and your companion return to your origin or face being shot.” Consequently, they comply with these orders out of sheer fear (63).

Public health officials are in a state of panic due to a significant increase in the number of people rapidly losing their sight without any known cause. These individuals not only worry about their own health, but also fear the government’s mandate to kill those infected. The true essence of life does not reside in having power or intimidating others, but rather in demonstrating compassion, love, and empathy. Without these qualities, we lose our capacity to comprehend others’ emotions and genuinely empathize with them.

Trust is a crucial concern when considering the people who surround and interact with you regularly, including those you only have limited contact with. For instance, Hispanic women are more likely to express dissatisfaction if they feel they have received poor treatment from providers and staff and if they lack trust in doctors (Guendelman, Wagner 118).

If patients do not sense hospitality and see a welcoming smile, they may hesitate to visit the doctor. This can make them feel like they are not receiving proper medical attention, potentially worsening their condition (119). Additionally, those who are already sick face a higher risk of further insults and may consequently distance themselves from the healthcare system. Establishing a physician-patient relationship that combines genuine care with attention and satisfaction is crucial. Regrettably, some doctors take advantage of their patients’ vulnerability when they are ill by prioritizing financial gain over their well-being.

However, another patient is lost by the physician due to greed. Saramago also illustrates trust in a similar manner, but he tells a story of a man who is suddenly blinded while waiting at a red light. The narrator recounts how a witness volunteers to drive the blind man home, but instead takes advantage of the desperate situation and steals his car. “That good soul” has taken our car. He seized the opportunity presented by your confusion and distress, and has robbed us (11).

Saramago portrays how some individuals prioritize their own needs and are unaware of the consequences that will return to them. Similarly, physicians exploit their patients during vulnerable moments. Additionally, dehumanization is a prevalent theme in Saramago’s novel. People often feel worthless and insecure when trapped, unable to escape the indescribable torment they are experiencing. Domestic violence serves as an example of this dehumanization in society. In Moscow, numerous women suffer due to their husbands’ desires to assert their masculinity.

The Interior Ministry of Russia reports that there are approximately 4 million domestic “disturbances” in the country, leading to about 3500 domestic homicides annually. Shockingly, only a small percentage of battered women receive any medical assistance, leaving them fearful for their lives and without necessary care. This issue is exemplified by a specific case from Kentucky where a verbally and physically abused woman was denied a domestic violence order because she did not live with her boyfriend. Despite his threats and abusive behavior, the court believed that their lack of cohabitation disqualified her from receiving protection. This failure to address her plea likely left her feeling unsafe and with diminished self-worth. In Saramago’s portrayal of dehumanization, he depicts the cleanliness of institutions and the soldiers’ indifference towards blind internees.

The passage starts with an account of doctors’ efforts to find the lavatories and the negative encounter they had. The author depicts the overpowering smell that affected the doctors and the sensation of stepping on excrement that had either missed the toilet hole or was purposely left behind. This dirtiness posed a risk of contamination that endangered the lives of blind internees. It acts as a reminder that life is brief and individuals must prioritize their own security and safety. Lastly, segregation remains influential in shaping our society.

A study conducted by the New York Civil Rights Coalition (Progen, Staff) found that programs targeting minority groups hinder multiculturalism and promote separatism. For instance, programs like the ALANA job fair segregate minority students from the white majority, leading them to feel inferior. This segregation creates a perception that they are not capable of competing with white students in a regular job fair (Progen, Staff). Many people believe that if you do not conform to the majority, you are treated as an inferior being and should be regarded as second-class citizens. In response to the spreading blindness epidemic, the Minister suggested isolating all blind victims and those who had close contact with infected individuals.

Once settled in the mental institution, the victims are notified over the loudspeaker about various instructions. They are informed that they must rely on themselves, without much assistance, due to their blindness. The woman making the announcement goes on to say that their isolation at present is a demonstration of unity with the rest of the community (43).

Having a belief that minorities are lesser beings and can be disregarded is an irrational mindset. It is wrong to devalue others just because they are weaker or different from oneself. As the girl wearing dark glasses pointed out, fear can cause blindness. In fact, we were already blind the moment fear struck us, and this fear will continue to keep us blind (Saramago 129).

In today’s society, many individuals prioritize their personal lives and neglect the broader aspects of life due to fear of the unknown and resistance to unfamiliar experiences. It can be challenging for many people to step out of their comfort zone and embrace different perspectives, particularly those from marginalized communities.

In the novel Blindness, Jose Saramago symbolically employs the concept of blindness to represent the truth we are unwilling to face. To evade the external world, numerous individuals opt to shield themselves from the evident reality and instead fixate on their own interpretation of what is real. Nevertheless, when our capacity to see is eradicated, we are left with no choice but to confront reality in its entirety.

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Metaphorical Blindness in the Novel by Jose Saramago. (2019, Mar 04). Retrieved from

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