Blindness Summary and Analysis of Part IV


The minister of health had reviewed the available facilities in the city limits and had decided to intern the blind in an abandoned mental hospital. The doctor and his wife are the first to arrive at the new quarantine, which consists of two wings, one to be used for those that are suspected of contamination and one that is to be used by those that have already gone blind. Once inside, the doctor and his wife are joined by four other people: the first blind man, the car thief, the girl with the dark glasses and a boy with a squint that had also been at the clinic when the first blind man arrived. They each find a bed, with some difficulty. The doctor's wife assists them, but doesn't let on to anyone that she can see.

Soon enough a recording comes on that lays out the rules of the quarantine for the new interns. They can count on no intervention from the outside, they must bury their own dead, they will receive a set amount of food three times a day and they must not, on pain of death, attempt to leave the compound. Soon enough, the first blind man and the car thief realize that they are both interned together and come to blows. After this is established as futile, the little boy makes clear that he needs to go the bathroom and the little band sets off to find the lavatories, with the doctor's wife leading them.

Traveling in a line, the car thief begins to grope the girl with the dark glasses who responds with a kick backwards. The heel of her shoe digs into the man's leg and he begins bleeding everywhere. The doctor and his wife are able to improvise a tourniquet, and they clean the wound with the available dirty water, but the man is badly injured.


When they get to the quarantine, the process of social leveling continues. This can be seen by the interaction of the first blind man and the car thief. Both of them consider the other the aggressor; the first blind man for the other man having stolen his car, the car thief for the other man having infected him with the sickness.

The fundamental problems that will make the quarantine virtually unlivable also become apparent in this part. The little boy cannot help himself and wets himself while waiting to go to the bathroom. Since no one can see, and he is embarrassed, no one helps him. The problem of hygiene and responsibility will become a huge problem in the ward later.

Another problem that begins to become apparent is the aggression and inability to come to an agreement that characterize the interactions of the internees. The problem of organization is central and will become only more so as internees arrive. We also see, from the incident with the car thief, that all of the medical knowledge in the world is unable to help the car thief. It becomes apparent that the doctor, without instruments, may as well not be a doctor. Suddenly, even small issues such as the car thief's wounded leg, begin to take on capital importance.

Allegorically, this is the point in the narrative when the characters enter a situation wherein the blind are leading the blind, so to speak. The fact, though, that the doctor's wife is still able to see recalls the philosopher in the second half of Plato's allegory of the cave. In the second half of the allegory, the philosopher, depicted as the person who is able to leave the cave and see things as they really are, as opposed to their reflections, re-enters the cave and is treated as though he is insane. In the situation of the quarantine, we also have a person who is able to "leave the cave" so to speak, in that she can see. The difference, here, though, is that as opposed to being treated as insane, she is forced to maintain her superior insight as a secret. She fears that if she reveals her ability, she will be removed from the quarantine and separated from her husband. The reader can already see, though, the fact that blindness is becoming the new norm.