Blindness Summary and Analysis of Part XIII


After resting through the night, the group decides to make their way to the city. They have not eaten now for several days and their priority is food. Coming into the city, the doctor's wife looks for a shop or store that may have some edible food. They come across a pharmacy where a family is camped out. It begins to rain and, seeking shelter, the doctor's wife talks with one of the men in the pharmacy. He explains to the doctor's wife the way in which groups of people now live. People tend to travel in small bands, hunting for food. These groups are entirely nomadic, since everyone is afraid of getting lost, and as soon as they abandon a shelter, another group moves in. No one can find their way home. She does not reveal to the man that she can see.

The rest of the group stays in a store while she goes to hunt for food. She travels quite a way before she can find a supermarket. Once there, she enters and sees that the entire place is filled with blind people scrabbling for food. Almost everything that could be easily eaten is gone, and several groups of blind people quarrel over scraps that they find on the floor or on the low shelves. She also witnesses a group whose leader steps on a small piece of glass. They all help him remove it and show a remarkable amount of love and solidarity. She is about to leave, thinking that it isn't worth it looking for food, when she remembers that most of these markets have a storeroom.

After much struggle, she finds the storeroom and lets herself in. The stock is untouched. Fumbling around in the dark, she starts grabbing things at random until she finds a book of matches and fills her bags quickly with food. Unable to wait any longer, she sits down and eat something. On the way out, the blind smell the food on her breath and begin running after her. She narrowly escapes and immediately gets lost in her panic. A dog comes to lick off her tears and stays with her after she has found her way. It begins to rain and blind people are everywhere gaping at the sky, washing themselves and filling their mouths with water. Back at the shelter, the group decides to eat, get some shoes and then seek out their individual homes.


This part opens up the narrative to the rest of the city. The city, it is shown, is really no different than the quarantine. This is a continuation of the irony of the gates of the quarantine. Society as a whole has become different. Nomadism is now a central part of human life, meaning that home becomes more of a factor of who you are with than where you are. The members of the group at first want to return to their home, but they soon realize that nothing will be left for them there. The only home they know is each other.

The doctor's wife's trip to the supermarket shows a demonstrable character shift. She begins to realize that in order to preserve her group she has to begin to act a lot more selfishly. This shift began with her murder of the man with the gun and we see it here again with the fact that she shuts the rest of the blind people out of the storage cellar. In spite of all that she has seen and experienced, the doctor's wife clings to the morality of her previous life. We see that a parallel is drawn, through the allegory, between reason and morality. It is precisely because of the fact that the wife "sees things as they are" that she is able to retain her morals – even when she has to violate them.

In the first part of the narrative, which was confined to the quarantine, the doctor's wife has to pretend that she is blind like the rest of the internees. Once the quarantine is opened, though, she becomes less concerned with this. Once again the allegorical parallel with Plato's cave should be brought up. In the second part of the allegory of the cave, one man (the philosopher) is able to leave the cave and see the world for what it is. When he returns to the cave he is treated as if he is insane if he just reveals the things that he has seen, he has to pretend to be like the rest of them in order to convey his message to them and improve them little by little. Still, his presence is helpful, because he acts, as it were, as a point of stability with the "real" world beyond our petty fears and ignorance. The doctor's wife accomplishes the same things vis-à-vis the blindness of the group. In the quarantine she had to pretend to be blind, but she subtly helped the internees live slightly better lives. In the outside world she does not feel any sort of compulsion to pretend to be blind and her superiority is openly acknowledged by the fact that she is the leader of the group.