This article may contain things about Blindness by Jose Saramago that you may not want to know before you read it.
Imagine stopping at traffic lights on your way home and being able to move because you can’t see. You are blind. What we know is not blindness, which is the black, endless darkness, but a blindness with light, as if swimming in a sea of white milk. This is how Saramago defines the blindness that spreads like an epidemic in his book and tells about the moral collapse of society with this disaster. The author does not name anyone in his book, but mentions everyone with their adjectives, which makes us feel better that no one’s name or who they are as an individual is important in a disrupted order.
“There’s something in all of us that we can’t name, that’s who we are.”
“Actually, blindness was living in a world where hope was lost.”
As the first victims of contagious blindness come together with a shared destiny, we meet a character who hides this even though he can see his wife in order not to leave him alone. Why this woman, who continues to see even in the future, is not blind is an important question that the book asks us. Maybe because she can look at everyone without prejudice, or maybe because she volunteered not to see, this woman, who did not get blind, becomes the eyes of the army of the blind. Trying to get used to living in this way, the community soon begins to move away from human conditions and lead an animal life, perhaps because they do not see them, or because others do not see them, and this leads the reader to another big question of the book. The seeing woman, who had to see the state of people, makes us think that she is the only witness of this disaster, actually the real curse is on her: Being a seer in the country of the blind.
“I don’t think we were blind, we were blind already. Are they the blind who see, or the blind who see but do not see?
“If we can’t live like fully human beings, let’s at least do our best not to live fully like animals.”
Where everyone is equally deficient, there are those who still want to have power. A gun-owning man proves once again that evil has always existed and is meaningless, by forming a gang, hiding food from others, and confiscating money and valuables, even though they have no validity. Now the story evolves into a symbolic battle between a bad man and a good woman, with the woman who sees sharing the pain of women whose bodies are attacked and forced to see them. Our hero, who deserves to be evil for once in order to end the atrocities he has witnessed, pushes us to question whether evil is always evil.
“Just as wearing a robe does not become a monk, holding a scepter does not become a king.”
“In the end, we will inevitably come to the conclusion that even the greatest evils contain enough goodness in them for us to endure that evil with patience.”
Saramago’s style is so fluent and impressive that when you can’t put the book down, you can sometimes forget what you see. In such an internalized doomsday scenario, you question once again where you are in life. Maybe we are experiencing the real blindness right now, when we do not oppose the evil in front of our eyes. Maybe we wouldn’t be as good a person as we thought if no one would see it. Maybe…