The population of an unnamed city is struck by a mysterious blindness which is never explained. A man is sitting at a traffic light one day waiting for the light to turn green and he suddenly goes blind.
This is the “first blind man.” Slowly this mysterious form of blindness, the like not known in the literature of modern medicine, spreads to the whole nation.
There is only one sighted person left in the realm. There is the first blind man, the first blind man’s wife. The blind man had a seeming good Samaritan who helps him home and but then steals his car and is thus called the man who had stole the car.
There is the doctor whom he consults and the doctor’s wife, the girl with dark glasses, the boy with the squint and the man with the black eye patch.
There are a few others, but these become our key characters, later on adding the dog of tears. All blind people that is, save one - the doctor’s wife who somehow remains sighted and is able to give this small group the advantages that allow it to survive when others could not.
She can locate places, keep them all in line and, most importantly, find food and water in a world gone blind.
Blindness details the social breakdown that swiftly follows the inexplicable epidemic. It follows the misfortunes the few people who get stricken first especially the doctor and his wife, the doctor’s patients, among many thrown together by chance.
This group bands together in a family-like unit to survive by their wits and by the unexplained good fortune that the doctor’s wife has escaped the blindness.
In Blindness, Saramago who writes in his native Portuguese language, deals with the historical element by taking his readers to the distant past and refreshes their memories of the plague-ridden cities they are so well-acquainted with through myths and legends.
His writing is often described as realism tinged with Latin-American mysticism, particularly for his technique of confronting historical personages with fictional characters. He has attracted comparisons to fellow Literature Nobel laureate Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his use of magical realism. Saramago who was the first Portuguese writer to win the Nobel peace Prize in 1988 passed away last week.