Every reader enjoys a twist at the end of the story. Sometimes when that happens the reader has to re-read the story to find the bits and pieces of foreshadowing that the author gave to indicate that the ending was going to happen. This unusual endings occurs in "A Man Who Had No Eyes" by Mackinlay Kantor.
The story's narration comes from a third person limited omniscient point of view. The two characters in the story are Mr. Parsons, a wealthy insurance investor, and a beggar [Markwardt].
There are many differences between the two men. Mr. Parsons dresses immaculately. His speech implies someone professional. Even though he seems to have pity for the beggar, Mr. Parsons speaks with impatience toward the other man; however, he does listen to the blind man's story with surprising interest.
Shabby and dirty--the beggar uses his walking stick to help him down the street. From years of depending on others for his sustenance, the beggar readily tells Mr. Parsons that he does not just beg because he sells lighters for his money. This is a somewhat admirable way of earning his money. Eager to share his story, the beggar hopes for a bigger donation based on the base way that the mas was treated when he was blinded.
With a closer reading , the author did foreshadow Mr. Parson's blindness.
1. As Mr. Parson steps out from his hotel, he is carrying a malaccca stick [a rare and valuable stick] which he too uses for his blindness.
2. Like most people who are blind, Mr. Parson's has exceptional hearing skills. As the beggar comes down the street, Parson's notes the sounds of the stick and knows that the man coming toward him is blind.
3. One of the comments the narrator makes about Mr. Parsons concerns how he became successful:
A few years ago he [Mr. Parsons] had been little more than a skilled laborer; now, he was successful, respected, admired...Insurance...And he had done it alone, unaided, struggling beneath handicaps.
4. Even though it has been fourteen years since the accident, Mr. Parsons remembers the accident quite well. He comments that it was one of the greatest disasters in his life.
Although the hints are subtle, they still lead to an understanding that Mr. Parsons is also blind. Of course, Kantor compares these two men who were blinded at the same time. One used his handicap to prosper. The other man sank into self pity, twisting the story of his blindness to self-serve, and then, rather than rising to the occasion, became dependent on the pity of others.
Lesson provided; lesson learned. Take where a person finds himself and rise to the occasion.