blindness.jpg

Blindness 2 by Jose Saramago


Group Members:
Logan N
Emma T
Chloe S
Mariah L
Mary S
Ben W
Abby C
Billy C
Alison K*

Discussion Time:
Friday January 8th 5B 12:55-2:25

Agenda:

Discussion Facilitator and Participant's Names
Facilitator: Abby C (if that's okay with everyone :] )

Introduction:
• Everyone chooses a character to briefly give an opinion on.
  • People can come with a chosen passage reflecting on a certain character or a certain theme in the book and explain the relevance of this passage.

Clarifying Questions
  • How did the rest of the city become infected?
  • Why was The Doctor's Wife exempt from blindness?
  • What is the deeper moral or point to this novel? (What was the point to the blindness, fighting, and recovery).
  • Why did the author choose to not name the characters?
    • Why does Saramago choose to keep names out of it, even for characters outside the asylum and before?
  • Why were we asked to read this novel?
  • What do you think the novel's theme is?
  • How effective and helpful would the Doctor's wife have been had everyone not regained their sight? Could she have kept their group of seven alive?
  • How do you think our society today would react were we to be hit with a blindness epidemic such as this?

Characters
  • The Doctor
  • The Doctor's Wife
    -What exempted The Doctor's Wife from the blindness? How would the story have played out without her or her ability to see?
  • The First Blind Man
  • The Wife of the First Blind Man
  • The Car Thief
    -Did The Thief deserve what happened to him? Was his fate brought on by his own immorality by stealing from a blind man and then later feeling up the Girl with Dark Glasses? Was karma at play? Towards the end of his life, did he feel guilty and feel he deserved it? Did he know he was going to be killed?
  • The Girl with Dark Glasses
    • Why is it, and do you find it ironic, that the Girl with the Dark Glasses ends up being the one to care for the Boy with the Squint when she has spent the majority of her life prostituting herself, something that is far from being a mother?
  • The Boy with The Squint
  • The Dog of Tears
  • The Man with a Gun
  • The Man with the Eye Patch
  • The Woman with Insomnia

Do you think the government and the people who quarantined the first people to go blind have gotten what they deserved by going blind as well? In other words do you think it could be looked at as karma?

Narration
The Doctor's wife, the only one that had eyes to tell the story.
Because of the lack of quotation marks or really any distinction between sentences and dialogue in the paragraphs, anyone who is speaking or thinking temporarily becomes the narrator.

Setting
The city and country are never specified in the novel. It is in an urban setting, and much of it takes place in an old, abandoned asylum with different wards used for those who are suspected to be contaminated and for those who are already blind.

• There were times during the novel where I could really imagine how the characters must feel and I almost had a claustrophobic feeling when I thought about being blind like them. Do you think Saramago did a good job of portraying how unsettling the setting of this novel was?

Themes/Motifs
The theme is that human nature is originally good but everyone can choose to do bad things. Others make this happen. The influence of others influence what you do. The only lady who could see, saw the horrors and conditions of others. She used this to influence an attempt to stop all this and work together.

• The idea disintegration is another theme. Since most of the story was told from the point of view of the first people to be quarantined, how do you imagine the disintegration of the rest of the country took place while the interns were stuck in quarantine?

Another theme is fear and fear used to control others. The soldiers were terrified of having the same fate as the blind internees and this led them to act rashly throughout the first part of the novel, causing much of the distress and chaos. The government relied on fear to be able to control the internees. Also, fear controlled the doctor's wife, since she was too afraid to speak out and reveal that she was able to see.

One other theme discussed throughout the novel is the idea of karma. The car thief went blind for robbing a blind man, then died after feeling up the girl with the dark glasses. The girl with the dark glasses went blind, and she was a prostitute. The only one who didn't go blind was the doctor's wife, who is arguably the most moral character in the novel. Are their fates deserved? Did they bring this upon themselves?

Style of Writing
•Did you think Saramago's writing style (the long paragraphs, unusual dialogue, and periods and commas as the only punctuation) to take away from your ability to read/interpret/enjoy the novel?
  • The lack of quotation marks around the dialogue means that the identity of the person is not apparent to the reader or really even that important.
-Why did Saramago write the dialogue in this way, incorporating it into the paragraphs as opposed to separating it with quotation marks and tabs as is normally done? What did it add to the novel?

Significant Passages
"...from this crook who was capable of robbing a blind man, he claims that he turned blind because of me, well let him stay blind, at least it shows there is still some justice in this world." (47)

"It was my fault, she sobbed, and it was true, no one could deny it, but it is also true, if this brings her any consolation, that if, before every action, we were to begin by weighing up the consequences, thinking about them in earnest, first the immediate consequences, then the probable, then the possible, then the imaginable ones, we should never move beyond the point where our first thought brought us to a halt. The good and evil resulting from our words and deeds go on apportioning themselves, one assumes in a reasonably uniform and balanced way, throughout all the days to follow, including those endless days, when we shall not be here to find out, to congratulate ourselves or ask for pardon"
(78).

If you can see, look.
If you can look, observe. - The book of Exhorations

"So they went in without their shoes, the doctor's wife searched for and found a large plastic bag into which she put all the shoes intent upon giving them a good scrub, she had no idea when or how, then she carried them out on to the balcony, the air outside would not get any worse on this account. The sky began to darken, there were heavy clouds, If only it would rain, she thought" (271).

Outside Resources
Film Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTivdzpDqP0
"The only thing more terrifying than blindness is being the only one who can see"

Book Review: http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/personal/reading/saramago-blindness.html

Critique of Blindness: http://go.galegroup.com.prxy2.ursus.maine.edu/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=LitRC&userGroupName=maine&tabID=T001&searchId=R3&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=1&contentSet=GALE|A117607163&&docId=GALE|A117607163&docType=GALE&role=LitRC


Discussion protocols: introduction/conclusion commentary--for example, you might ask everyone to bring and share a comment about a passage they chose to open the discussion, or each take a different character and respond.

Closing/Conclusion

Volunteers for Food:
Logan N- Brownies
Emma T- Something
Chloe S- Donuts- croissants and nutella
Mariah L- Chips
Mary S- chips
Ben W- Pretzels
Abby C- popcorn
Billy C- drinks