What is a comparison between the short stories "The Eyes Are Not There" by Ruskin Bond and "Blind Date" by Jeffrey Archer?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Ruskin Bond's short story "The Eyes Are Not There," originally published (and most commonly known) as "The Eyes Have it," appeared first in the collection Night Train at Deoli, published in 1988. Jeffrey Archer's short story "Blind Date" appeared first in the collection And Thereby Hangs a Tale, published in 2010.  

A bit more than twenty years apart in publication dates, the two short stories have strong similarities. Consequently there are several points of comparison between the short stories on blindness by Bond and Archer. A few important ones will help you tune your analysis to find others.

The first, most obvious and surprising comparison relates to tone. Tone is the opinion about characters and events conveyed by the narrator. When the narrator is first-person and a participant in the story, tone and mood can overlap. Mood is the emotional quality of the story and, though related heavily to setting, is strongly influenced by characters' and first-person narrators' psychological states.

Born around the same time as Archer (Bond 1934, Archer 1940), Bond began his writing career in his early twenties, winning his first award in 1957 for the novel The Room on the Roof. Archer began his writing career in 1934 after losing heavily on an international investment, forcing his resignation from the House of Commons in the Parliament of Great Britain.

The similarity in tone between the two stories suggests Archer was strongly influenced by Bond. The similarity further suggests Archer may have intentionally resuscitated Bond's short story, set in India, as a contemporary tale set in Cornwall in England: "[Charlie's] slight Cornish burr leaving no doubt that he was a local."

The tone of the narrator in both is observational as well as preoccupied with their pastimes. The narrator's pastime in Bond's story is to play a game of blind-man's-bluff and to see how long he can keep people from discovering he is blind: "I wondered if I would be able to prevent her from discovering that I was blind. Provided I keep to my seat, I thought, it shouldn't be too difficult. ... Once again I had a game to play and a new fellow traveller."

The narrator's pastime in Archer's is quite similar, though it has two parts. The first part is the challenge to see how long it took for others to discover his blindness: "The challenge is to see how long I can carry out the deception before the person ... realizes the truth [that I was blind]." The second is the challenge "to see how much [he] can work out about the person ... before they realize [he] cannot see them."

While the tone in each strives to be objective, it nonetheless sometimes slips into subjective. In a slip into subjectivity, the narrator in Bond's story says: "I thought, then, that I would try to laugh for her, but the thought of laughter only made me feel troubled and lonely." In a similar slip from objectivity into subjectivity, the narrator in Archer's story says: "I felt a right chump. She must have already seen [it] ... but was too polite to embarrass me."

One difference between the narrators is that Avers English narrator's challenge is more focused on discovering things about the girl instead of preventing discovery about himself: "I wondered how many out of ten I'd got so far." In contrast, Bond's narrator's game while on the train in India is more focused on preventing discovery about himself: "I ... felt for the window ledge. The window was open and I faced it, making a pretence of studying the landscape."

Some other points where the two stories compare favorably with each other are:

  • both have blind male first-person narrators.
  • both immediately reveal to the reader their blindness.
  • young women join both as they sit in confined spaces.
  • both speak to the young woman, initiating conversation by speaking first.
  • a third person informs each of the young woman's blindness.
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