The Blind who Should be Leading the Really Blind

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In his novel, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Foster's idea that characters in literature are blind for reasons is not new nor is it suprising. Foster reminds his readers that "Tiresias is blind but sees the real story, and Oedipus is blind to the truth and eventually blinds himself" (Foster 203). As I read this statement, which I had to reread a few times, I realized Wilder employs the same blindness by one who can physically see in The Skin of Our Teeth. Though this blindness to the truth is more comedic and results in far less tragedy and death, Wilder's Mr. Antrobus is blind to the identity of Ms. Fairweather being the same as Sabina. He is, in essence, blinded by her beauty.

As usual, however, Foster is incapable of stopping with the obvious statement, and moves on to a little writing advice and crops up more and more in his novel as we near the end. He advises "if you want your audience to know something important about your character (of the work at large), introduce it early, before you need it" (Foster 205). This suprised me until I took time to consider it. If, for example, I was reading a novel and about half-way through the author sneaks in a little information that is unnecessary, I would immediately be suspicious. If, however, the information was presented in the beginning when the story is being set up, I would accept it as simply part of the story. This planning speaks, if nothing else, to the great works of art that literature can be. The authors don't make it up as they go along, but begin writing their convoluted stories with an idea and a plan.

 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/03/foster_how_to_read_literature_4/

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