José Saramago's Blindness starts out with one man spontaneously going blind in the middle of rush hour. Confused and scared, a crowd gathers, their frustration forgotten, and one man offers to drive him home. Once he has the blind man home, he proceeds to steal the first blind man's car. Not long after, the car thief goes blind while trying to hide the car. Then a wave of spontaneous blindness follows. The first blind man goes to an ophthamology clinic–everyone there is eventually struck blind.
It is at this point that the narrative begins to follow the doctor at the clinic and his wife. Informed by the ministry of health that they must vacate their house and move to a quarantine, the doctor's wife decides to join her husband even though she is not blind herself. Inside this quarantine, the situation quickly turns dire as their supplies begin to run low and the criminal element takes over, demanding sex for food. Eventually the quarantine burns down and the blind internees escape into the city, finding that the whole world has turned blind.
Now the group from the first ward must stick together to survive, and they learn how to cope as a group with the doctor's wife as the leader. They attempt to find their old homes, but find that many of their residences have been taken over by others or that there is no sign of their families or friends. Eventually they get back to the doctor's residence and decide to stay there as a family. In the end they all regain their sight as quickly as it was lost, leaving them to ponder the things that they learned about themselves and about humanity during their time blind.