Blind Sight

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"For now I realized that I meant everything that I had said to the audience, even though hadn't known that I was going to say those things" (Ellison p. 353).

       In his speech, the narrator talks about how people see individuals like him as blind. They view people of other races as un-common. He continues to make references to blindness as the speech goes on. He calls the brothers one-eyed. He tells the audience to look at him, and to take back their eyes. All the references to sight in this speech were so obvious; it encourages me to look into them more. I was able to conclude that the narrator's speech was pretty much "the blind leading the blind". The narrator can't see the audience - he even says that "red spots danced before my eyes" (p. 347). He was trying to teach and lead people he couldn't even see. He is blind to what is going on around him. He is preaching about things that he himself really does not even believe in. He may have said he meant everything, but he does not seem to really practice what he preaches. He seems to hold some of the same negative feelings toward his "brothers" as the individuals he despises. Then he gets ridiculed for the things he says by the brotherhood. It seems that that narrator has become way over his head, and is reaching the point where he will never get out.

Thoughts From Other Students

4 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

He will get out though. He needs to learn to think or "see" for himself and make his own assumptions. I feel he just gets too wrapped up in trying to live a sucessful life that he doesn't take time to find himself.

In the prolouge (or the end), he seems to have found that self and he makes his world bright so that he doesn't hide in the shadows. (I feel darkness and shadows are another reoccuring theme perhaps representing a lack of knowledge or blindness)

I agree that darkness and sight are pretty big themes in this novel; just one look at the title can tell you that this book is going to be very concerned with the ability or inability to see things. I really love the way literal and metaphorical blindness coincide so often throughout the novel. The revelation of Brother Jack's glass eye punctuates the huge revelation that the Brotherhood is blind to the narrator and the problems of his people and is only using them to gain political power. Only by destroying the illusions of his past through burning the objects in his brief case is the narrator able to see in the sewer. You really could go on and on about the way sight figures so prominently in this novel. It's interesting that blindness is never really used the way Foster says it can be used; nowhere is there a Tiresias-type character who is literally blind but metaphorically can see much more than the seeing characters. Maybe that would've hurt the way the motif is being used in this novel.

Christopher Dufalla said:

Ellison does make use of light and darkness within the narrator's speech. The narrator is blinded by light...perhaps this is a foreshadow of learning and becoming aware of all of the good along with the bad things in life.

There is indeed a sense of the blind leading the blind: both the narrator and the audience desire progress and greater freedom and they need to work together in order to achieve it. Yet, no one knows what that kind of freedom feels like, hence, they have no true guide for experience, no forerunner to show them the way.

Rosalind Blair said:

The recurring theme of darkness definitely can represent blindness. The narrator was "blind" to what was really going on around him, and to his real actions after he became involved in the brotherhood. I had not really made the connection between Brother Jack's glass eye and the blindness of the Brotherhood as a whole, and it is definitely something that give the whole theme of darkness a new idea. And Matt, the connection between Foster's idea of blindness and the theme in Ellisons work are really different, but have the same sort of principle. Even if you are blind, you must learn to somehow become aware.

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Rosalind Blair on Blind Sight: The recurring theme of darknes
Christopher Dufalla on Blind Sight: Ellison does make use of light
Matt Henderson on Blind Sight: I agree that darkness and sigh
Aja Hannah on Blind Sight: He will get out though. He nee
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