The doctor is an ophthalmologist who is stricken blind after treating a patient with "the white sickness." He is one of the first people to be quarantined and, due to his medical expertise and the fact that he and his wife were the first internees, he has a certain authority in the quarantine. Much of this authority, though, comes from the fact that his wife can see and gives him inside information into the goings ons of the quarantine. When they finally leave the quarantine, the group of blind internees travel to his house.
The doctor's wife
The doctor's wife is the only character in the entire novel who does not lose their sight. This phenomenon remains unexplained in the novel. Unable to leave her husband to be interned, she lies to the doctors and claims to be blind. At this point she is interned with the rest of the afflicted. Once inside, she attempts to help the compound organize, but she is increasingly unable to hold back the animality of the compound. When one ward begins withholding food and demanding that the women of other wards sleep with them to be fed, she kills the leader of their ward. Once they escape the compound, she helps her group survive in the city. The doctor's wife is the de facto leader of their small group, although in the end she often serves their disabled needs.
The girl with the dark glasses
The girl with the dark glasses is a former part-time prostitute who is struck blind while with a customer. She is unceremoniously removed from the hotel and taken to the quarantine. Once inside, she joins the small group of people who were contaminated at the doctor's office. When the car thief gropes her on the way to the lavatory, she kicks him – giving him a wound from which he will eventually die. While inside, she also takes care of the boy with the squint, whose mother is nowhere to be found. At the end of the story, she and the old man with the black eye patch become lovers.
The old man with the black eye patch
The old man with the black eye patch is the last person to join the first ward. He brings with him a portable transistor radio that allows the internees to listen to the news. He is also the main architect of the failed attack on the ward of hoodlums hoarding the food rations. Once the group escapes the quarantine, the old man becomes the lover of the girl with the dark glasses.
The dog of tears
The dog of tears is a dog that joins the small group of blind when they leave the quarantine. While he mostly loyal to the doctor's wife, he helps the whole group by protecting them all from packs of dogs who are becoming more feral by the day. He is called the dog of tears because he becomes attached to the group when he licks the tears off the face of the doctor's wife.
The boy with the squint
The boy with the squint was a patient of the doctor's, which is most likely how he became infected. He is brought to the quarantine without his mother and soon falls in with the group in the first ward. The girl with the dark glasses feeds him and takes care of him like a mother.
The car thief
After the first blind man was struck blind in traffic, a car thief brought him home and, subsequently stole his car. Soon after he went blind, the car thief and the first blind man reencounter one another in the quarantine, where they soon come to blows. They have no time to resolve their issues, though, since the car thief is the first internee killed by the guards. He is gunned down while trying to ask the guards for medication for his infected leg.
The first blind man
The first man to go blind is struck blind in the middle of traffic, waiting at a stoplight. He is immediately taken home and then to the doctor's office, where he infects all of the other patients. He is one of the principle members of the first ward - the ward with all of the original internees. He is also the first to regain his sight, when the epidemic is finally over.
The first blind man's wife
The wife of the first blind man goes blind soon after helping her husband to the quarantine. They are reunited by pure chance in the quarantine. Once inside, she also joins the first ward with the doctor and the doctor's wife. When the ward of hoodlums begins to demand that the women sleep with them in order to be fed, the first blind man's wife volunteers to go, in solidarity with the others.
The man with the gun
The man with the gun is the leader of the ward of hoodlums that seizes control of the food supply in the quarantine. He and his ward take the rations by force and threaten to shoot anyone who doesn't comply. This ward extorts valuables from the other internees in exchange for food and, when the bracelets and watches run out, they begin to rape the women. He is later stabbed to death by the doctor's wife.
The blind accountant
This man is not one of those afflicted by the "white sickness" -- rather he has been blind since birth. He is the only one in the ward who can read and write braille and who knows how to use a walking stick. Additionally, he is the second in command to the man with the gun in the ward of hoodlums. When the doctor's wife kills the man with the gun, the blind accountant takes the gun and tries to seize control but he is unable to rally support. He dies when one of the rape victims sets fire to the ward.
Blindness Questions and Answers
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The doctor's wife is the only character in the entire novel who does not lose their sight. This phenomenon remains unexplained in the novel. Unable to leave her husband to be interned, she lies to the doctors and claims to be...