Blindness Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Do you think that Blindness is an overt critique of modern society? Why or why not?

    In many ways, Blindness can be considered a critique of the resilience of what we consider to be modern society. In the novel, all of the institutions that we regard as pillars of society such as government, infrastructure, the economy and religion, come crashing down as soon as there is one alteration. This points to the ultimately illusory nature of their permanence.

  2. 2

    When the other members of the group begin getting their sight back, the doctor's wife breaks into tears, why do you think she reacts this way?

    The tears of the doctor's wife are most likely tears of relief. In many ways, the travails of the hold world weigh more heavily on her shoulders. This is both because she is responsible for the whole group and because she has to witness these atrocities that the majority of blind people only have a vague idea about.

  3. 3

    When the doctor and his wife enter the church, people are disturbed to find out that the eyes of the statues and the paintings have been covered. Why do they react so strongly?

    Although it is not mentioned very much in the book, there are clearly still many people in the novel who are deeply religious as is evinced by the completely full church that the doctor and his wife stumble into. The devotees most likely are horrified that the eyes are covered because they feel that, if the divinities are also blind, they can not see the suffering of the people.

  4. 4

    What effect does the style of the book have on the overall effect of the novel?

    José Saramago's books often utilize effects that heighten ambiguity such as long sentences, lack of dialogue attribution (making it difficult to tell who is speaking), and nameless characters. Characters are often referred to by actions they have performed. These ambiguities help heighten the sense of ennui that the characters doubtlessly experience in their condition.

  5. 5

    Why do you think that no overt reason is given for the spread of the disease?

    While the plot of the novel centers on the spread of the "white sickness," the book is not really about the disease as such. The novel is much more interested in what will happen after the disease has ravaged the city. Thus it is unimportant how or why the disease came about.

  6. 6

    Does the experience in the quarantine provide any critique of forms of government?

    The experience in the quarantine really provides two different, competing models for systems of government. The first, the regime of the doctor, is democratic but inefficient. The internees must work things out among themselves. The second, the regime of the man with the gun, is efficient but totalitarian. This leads immediately into corruption and ruin. The novel clearly portrays the democratic regime in a more favorable light.

  7. 7

    What is the importance of the fact that the writer who is living in the first blind man's house keeps writing, even after he is sure no one can read what he has done?

    The writer who lives in the first blind man's house keeps writing even though no one can read his work. This is important for two reasons. The first is that the act of writing helps him to remember who he is. The second is that he wants to record what is going on -- perhaps not so that someone can read it, but so that he can hold on to the hope that someone will read it.

  8. 8

    Why do you think that the doctor's wife is the protagonist as opposed to some other member in the group?

    The fact that the doctor's wife is the protagonist is an implicit reversal of power positions between husband and wife. In the sighted world, and in their first experiences in the ward, he is the undisputed power holder. Soon enough, though, the wife becomes the more central and shows how contingent the apparent strength of men is.

  9. 9

    Why do you think that this novel utilizes an epidemic of blindness instead of some other epidemic?

    The epidemic of blindness is an interesting thought experiment because it does not kill, it merely cripples. This means that it is something that changes mankind in a fundamental, yet non-fatal way. In doing this, the novel is able to bring out many themes of human interaction without having the group face eminent death from the disease itself.

  10. 10

    What is the importance of the fact that the name of the city or country is never mentioned in the novel?

    The novel never mentions either the name of the city or the historical period when the events occur. Both of these omissions serve to give the novel a more fantastic, and also a more didactic, tone than if the time and place had been specified.