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Blindness - José Saramago

Imagine your world turning into a white milky sea? Imagine one minute you are seeing colors, the world so rich and bright and the next minute, everything you see is white and there is no reason behind this transformation.  This blindness begins with one individual and soon becomes an epidemic spread by human contact making individuals turn on each other.   The government quarantines these folks in an abandoned asylum as the numbers begin to get out of control.  Separating the infected from the individuals they have had contract with them, was their intention but the numbers just keep growing.  An ophthalmologist was one of the victims of this outbreak yet his wife pretends to be infected so she could stay with him as he is quarantined. Living as if she’s blind, she has the advantage that others do not but she also witness things she wishes she hadn’t seen.  As an abundance of infected people arrives and more made their way to the blinded side of the asylum, the people in charge are not ready to handle the problems that came with so many charges.   No one wants to come into contact with them so the issue of food, hygiene, and social order became major problems.  As one of the groups tries to take control of the whole situation including the other detainees, its human survival with your eyes closed.


When I first started to read this novel, I had a hard time getting into the writing structure.  There just seemed to be a lot of describing words, I didn’t know who was talking and there were no quotation marks around speech, things that I wasn’t sure I could handle for 326 pages but after getting into the story, I couldn’t put it down. The story reminds me of the 2005 Superdome incident with Hurricane Katrina only this book was written in 1995, both had major incidents where the government intervened yet was so unprepared and how some people acted.   To have the ophthalmologist’s wife hide among all the infected individuals witnessing what was happening and to keep quiet about it, I don’t know how she did it or how she stayed well so long.  They had that gang mentality, to stay alive and stay together which I started to feel and gather within myself and I wanted them to succeed.  Some of the book wasn’t pleasant but if you think about what they thought they were up against, it was a hard life they were living.  A beautiful scene was when the three naked women were out washing clothes on the balcony during the rain storm.  Exposed to the world, these women cried as they washed clothes, each woman uttering adjectives describing the other women as they washed - very emotion and powerful scene.  It really was a moving book and put things into perspective for me.