The Eyes Have It by Ruskin Bond
In The Eyes Have It by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of kindness, determination, independence, desire, perception, memory and confidence. Taken from his Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young unnamed blind man and after reading the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring the theme of kindness. Throughout the story the narrator shows kindness to the young woman in the compartment. He compliments her when he can which is somewhat ironic considering that he cannot see her. The fact that he considers that the woman has an interesting face may also be important as it suggests that the narrator is attempting to appeal to the woman’s intellect rather than to her vanity as most men would do. If anything throughout the story the narrator is flirting with the young woman. Which may explain as to why the narrator is acting so kind to her. He himself is a young man and it would only be natural for him to be interested in a young woman. It may also be significant that at no stage of the story does the narrator allow the fact that he is physically challenged get in the way of what he would like to do.
If anything the narrator shows the reader that he is resilient and determined when it comes to his engagement with the young woman. Something that the reader suspects is mirrored by the narrator’s outlook on life. He may be blind but the narrator does not consider this to be an obstacle. While others might admit defeat and rely on others. The narrator doesn’t. He maintains his independence. However it is noticeable that the narrator is somewhat self-conscious when he is in the compartment. He does not wish to let the young woman know that he is blind. Possibly fearing that she may judge him negatively should she be aware that he cannot see. It is also possible that the narrator is working from memory when he talks to the young woman about the landscape as he is looking out the compartment window. If this is the case then it would further emphasis the fact that the narrator wishes to hide the fact that he is blind. In reality the narrator may be aware of how those who are blind are treated by others. It is as though those who are blind are considered different.
It is also noticeable that Bond is using the narrator’s other senses in the story particularly smell. Similarly it is noticeable that the narrator has a strong desire to touch the young woman’s hair. Such is the favourable perception he has of the young woman. It is as though the narrator is attempting to paint a picture of the young woman for himself based on what she says to him and what he can smell. This could be important as the narrator appears to be compensating for his inability to see and seems to be doing so successfully. It is also interesting that the young woman, just like the narrator, is attempting to hide her blindness too. When the narrator asks the young woman to describe the landscape to him. Rather than admitting she is blind she tells the narrator to look for himself. This may be important as it highlights the same independence that the narrator is showing throughout the story. The young woman may be blind but she does not allow it to be a stumbling block or a topic of conversation. Which is very similar to the narrator. The determination that the narrator shows in the story is mirrored by the young woman.
The end of the story is also interesting as Bond appears to be introducing further irony into the story. It is only after the young woman has left that the narrator discovers that she too was blind. Every effort that the narrator has made to hide his own blindness has been in vain. The young woman would not have known he was blind regardless of the narrator’s actions. It might also be important that the narrator does not change his opinion of the young woman when he is talking to the man in the compartment. Rather than agreeing with the man and suggesting that the young woman was pretty. The narrator sticks to his original appraisal that the young woman had an interesting face. Though ironically he was unable to see the young woman’s face. By sticking to his remarks it is possible that Bond is suggesting that the narrator is confident not only about what he has said to the woman but he may also be confident about who he himself is. Despite being physically challenged the reader suspects that the narrator has the ability to life a full and varied life. Something that is noticeable by the fact he is travelling on his own. Bond again possibly highlighting to the reader how independent the narrator is.