The Country of the Blind
Wells, H. G. (Herbert George)
Genre: Short Story
- Willms, Janice
- Date of entry: Oct-03-2005
This tale is a fantasy in which a mountain climber falls into a strange and isolated society of non-seeing persons--claimed to have been in existence for fifteen generations and cut off from the rest of the world by an earthquake. The interloper decides quickly that "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
However, incident after incident proves him wrong in a society that no longer knows the word "see" and operates perfectly effectively and happily with the other finely tuned senses. Virtually imprisoned, and relegated to serfdom, the visitor begins the acculturation process of learning to live with his own disability--vision. Eventually he falls in love and gains permission to marry if he will agree to have his eyes, which have been deemed the cause of his irrational outburst, removed. His decision and its outcome make up the climax of the story.
The Famous Short Stories of H. G. Wells
Garden City, N.Y.
Despite its fantastic quality, this archetypal myth of falling into a hidden utopia has some peculiar twists that make it appropriate for the medical humanities. It is a reversal of the idea of disability, in which the circumstances alone define disability. The experience of being an "other," in this instance a seeing man in a world of blind persons, is the major thrust of this piece.