The Blind Man by Kate Chopin
In The Blind Man by Kate Chopin we have the theme of conflict, struggle, independence, change and connection. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Chopin may be exploring the theme of conflict. The blind man is not only hindered by the fact that he is blind but his journey is made the more difficult by some of the everyday obstacles that he encounters. Simple things like walking along the footpath or opening up a gate which is locked become problematic for the blind man. It is as though there are two conflicts occurring. The first being that the man is blind and as such is struggling and the second conflict is with society and how it is non-inclusive when it comes to the blind man. It is also noticeable that the blind man is an easy target for others. Something the reader realises when the young boys in the alley try to rob the blind man’s pencils. Perception also plays a part in the story particularly when it comes to the policeman. At first the policeman considers that the blind man is causing problems when the reader knows that the reality is very much different.
The fact that the narrator considers the blind man stupid is interesting as if anything the blind man may be trying to exert his independence by not using a stick. Similarly the narrator considers that the blind man is on the wrong side of the street. However at no stage does the reader suspect that the sun is bothering the blind man. It is as though the narrator is making assumptions based on their own beliefs rather than on what the blind man feels or believes. If anything the narrator has very little if any empathy for the blind man. Which may be the point that Chopin is attempting to make. The narrator may be symbolic of society in general and how society treats those who are blind. With the exception of the woman who suggests that the blind man should walk on the other side of the street. There is nobody else in the story who shows the blind man any empathy. It might also be a case that Chopin is suggesting that society judges an individual by way of appearance. The narrator for example does not see past the fact that the blind man is blind. The fact that the blind man is attempting to make a living for himself might also highlight his independence from others. Though there is no doubting that he is struggling he still nonetheless is trying his best to get by in life.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Often in literature a writer will use the colour red to symbolise danger. Chopin is no exception. The small box that the blind man carries is red and Chopin may be using the box and its colour as foreshadowing to highlight to the reader the impending danger in the story. The danger being the man killed by the electric cable car. The fact that the blind man’s clothes are described as ‘faded’ might also symbolically suggest that the blind man has seen better days. It might also suggest that the blind man is poor. That he has been wearing the same clothes for an extended period of time. With no continuous income the blind man is forced to keep wearing the same clothes. There is also a sense of irony that the blind man makes it across the street while a man who has his sight is killed while trying to do the same.
The end of the story is also interesting as the reader senses very little if anything will change for the blind man. Just as he had to cross the street without the assistance or help from another person. Likewise he will most likely have to continue his life with no help from others. It is also interesting that the blind man remains oblivious as to what has happened on the street as in many ways Chopin could be highlighting how disconnected the blind man is from others. He is literally in the dark about what happened the man and the electric cable car. By being blind the blind man is at a loss when it comes to trying to connect with the world around him. The reader sensing that the struggles that the blind man may have endured are to continue. However it is noticeable that the blind man is resilient. Though he is unable to see he still nonetheless is managing to function to the best of his ability. Without the help of others. Which may leave some readers to suggest that the only person that the blind man has is himself. If anything the blind man is too live a vulnerable life in a society that may not necessarily care.