LITERATURE: Blindness – Themes

There is, of course, as with all stories about epidemics or devastation of some sort, the ethical and moral questions that come up when man's nature is questioned in a survival situation. From the very beginning of the book when the thief kindly drove the blind man home and then stole his car we saw the inherent evil that comes with opportunity. Saramago takes this further; he gives us pause to consider the spiritual and the concept of punishment:

They're dead, they can't do any harm, someone remarked, the intention was to reassure himself and others, but his words made matters worse;, it was true that these blind internees were dead, that they could not move, see, could neither stir nor breathe, but who can say this this white blindness is not some spiritual malaise, and if we assume this to be the case, then the spirits of those blind casualties have never been as free as they are now, released from their bodies, and therefore free to do whatever they like, above all, to do evil, which, as everyone knows, has always been the easiest thing to do. (p. 85)

The soldiers have delivered food and left it in the hallway, halfway between the two wards holding the afflicted and the possibly contaminated and the above scenario is one where the seeing folk are considering taking the food after some of the blind (who according to the rules were to be fed first) have been shot when the soldiers felt threatened.

But these people are hungry and in their minds, survival fights ethics. What I wonder about, however, is that the contaminated are seemingly unconcerned that their particular loved one (the reason they themselves were confined in quarantine) may be in the pile of bodies and blood.

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