An easier way to establish context for Blindness would be to analyze Saramago’s life as well as the historical events surrounding it.On November 16, 1992, José Saramago was born in Azinhaga, Portugal in the Ribatejo province to a poor farming family.Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student.
Blindness, a novel by Portuguese author José Saramago, depicts the dystopian outcome of a plague of white blindness, (clunky) a mysterious disease that eventually becomes known among the novel’s characters as the “white evil.” Saramago quickly introduces the malady, recounting the first infection within the first few pages of the novel.
Out of fear of future contamination, the government arranges for a quarantine in an abandoned mental asylum.
António de Rigueiredo, a Portuguese dissident, recounts his experience in Tarrafal, “After 1945, as soon as the regime felt sure of its survival and new alliances, it passed from arbitrary but casual repression to a scientific system” of incarcerating individuals (quoted in Frier).
Another prisoner recalls that the only doctor in Taraffal neglected prisoners and allowed them to die in the unsanitary conditions of the prison (Frier).
Although these prisoners try to approach their providers without provoking attack, their blindness prevents them from knowing whether they will be shot for making a wrong move.
Acquiring the daily rations most often ends in violence or verbal abuse from the military.
Because the government was very much influenced by the Church, it did not allow this novel to be presented for the European Literary Prize.
Many of Saramago’s supporters protested the decision.
Not only were the prisoners subjected to horrifying punishments such as being forced to lie under the African sun, the ocean water flowed into the chambers everyday, washing up both garbage and human waste (Frier).
The mental asylum, though not against an ocean, also filled with human excrement because the internees had given up locating the restrooms after a few days, resorting to defecating on the floor or on their beds. ) One could be sent to these prisons, the most notorious being Tarrafal on the Cape Verde Islands, for being a dissident and for criticizing the Portuguese government, often without physical evidence.