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Why does Jose Saramago give no names in his novel Blindness?

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rak64 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted December 5, 2011 at 11:09 PM via web

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Why does Jose Saramago give no names in his novel Blindness?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 31, 2011 at 8:43 PM (Answer #1)

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In fact, if we examine this brilliant novel carefully, we can see that it is not only characters that remain nameless. Let us remember that the city which is the setting for the action of this novel remains nameless too, and there are no street names or names given to places in the narrative either. It appears that Saramago goes to every effort to try and remove his story from being linked to any one geographical area or location.

One reason for this deliberate obfuscation or anonymity could relate to the way in which Saramago hopes to stress the universality of the theme of his work, which is thereby shown to transcend the individual identity of any of his characters or of the setting. There are two strands to this idea. Firstly, the fact that no names or places are mentioned means that the events of the novel could happen to anyone in any location, meaning that we all are subject to the morals of this story and should pay heed to its message regarding the dangers of blindness in all of its forms.

Secondly, deliberately keeping his characters nameless and anonymous stresses Saramago's belief that we live in a modern world in which we as human beings have lost our sense of self and where our identity eludes us. If we think about it, our name is key to our sense of self and our identity. Stripping his characters of this vital foundation of their identity leaves them as mere shadows in so many ways, and as we imagine a city full of blind characters, walking and stumbling around with hands outstretched, it is easy for us to imagine that what they are searching and yearning for is their own identity and sense of self that they have lost sight of.

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