What is the summary of story 'A Man Who Had No Eyes' by MacKinlay Kantor and do you think in this story Mr Parson is blind too?

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MacKinlay Kantor's short story "A Man Who Had No Eyes " tells of a brief but meaningful encounter between two men on a cool spring morning. One man, Mr. Parsons, steps out of his hotel and straight into the path of another man, a beggar whose name is...

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MacKinlay Kantor's short story "A Man Who Had No Eyes" tells of a brief but meaningful encounter between two men on a cool spring morning. One man, Mr. Parsons, steps out of his hotel and straight into the path of another man, a beggar whose name is Markwardt. Markwardt is shabby, unkempt, and clearly down on his luck. He is also blind, as signified by "the traditional battered cane" he uses to "[thump] his way before him with a cautious, half-furtive effort of the sightless."

The sound of Markwardt's cane on the pavement catches Mr. Parsons's attention, and he feels "a sudden and foolish sort of pity for all blind creatures." When Markwardt approaches him and tries to sell him a cigarette lighter, Mr. Parsons feels a bit embarrassed, because he has no use for a cigarette lighter. His compassion for the blind beggar convinces him to give Markwardt some money anyway and to take the lighter in exchange. Out of curiosity, he asks Markwardt whether he is totally blind. Markwardt confirms that he is and has been for fourteen years, since a "chemical explosion" at a place called Westbury.

Mr. Parsons notes that the explosion at Westbury was a terrible disaster, and Markwardt agrees, saying:

"Just think about it, guv'nor. There was 108 people killed, about 200 injured, and over 50 of them lost their eyes. Blind as bats—"

But, Markwardt says glumly, society and the newspapers have "all forgot about it." If he had lost his sight in the war, he says, "I would have been well took care of." But as it is, he lost everything when he lost his sight. Mr. Parsons tries to say something, but Markwardt is now in full flow, telling his tragic tale.

His words fell with the bitter and studied drama of a story often told, and told for money.

Markwardt says he was in the last part of the chemical plant to evacuate when the explosion started, and just as he neared the door, and safety, a much larger man dragged him backwards by the leg and climbed over him to get out of the door first.

"Maybe he was nuts. I dunno. I try to forgive him in my heart, guv'nor. But he was bigger than me. He hauled me back and climbs right over me! Tramples me into the dirt and he gets out, and I lie there with all that poison gas pouring down on all sides of me, and flame and stuff..."

Then, quite unexpectedly, Mr. Parsons corrects him.

"The story is true," Mr. Parsons said, "except that it was the other way around. . . . You were the fellow who hauled back on me and climbed over me. You were bigger than I was, Markwardt."

Markwardt is nonplussed by this contradiction, and stammers that he thought Mr. Parsons had died. His shock rapidly changes into self-justification, however, as he begins screaming at Mr. Parsons that it doesn't matter what he did, he's still blind, so he's clearly suffered for his crimes and Mr. Parsons has no right to judge him:


Mr. Parsons sighs and says there's no reason to shout about it, as he is also blind.

The story ends with this pronouncement, but it's rewarding to go back through it from the beginning to note the clues to Mr. Parsons's blindness. The beauty of the spring day is apparent to Mr. Parsons by its coolness and scent of "lush shrubbery," rather than by its sunshine and flowers. While the beggar, Markwardt, is described in the opening paragraph, Mr. Parsons only notices his presence by the "clack-clack" of Markwardt's cane on the pavement. He feels a great deal of pity for the blind man, which is why he gives Markwardt money, for which he has to feel in his pocket. He himself is "very glad to be alive" because he survived the Westbury disaster, and he has made something of himself through his own efforts, despite "struggling beneath handicaps."

These little clues by themselves do not signify anything, but once the context of Mr. Parsons's own blindness is understood, their meaning becomes apparent.

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It says right there in  the story that Mr. Parsons is blind.  It is the last line of the story "So am I."

The basic plot of the story is that Parsons is leaving his office building when a man comes up to ask him for money.  The beggar is a blind man.  The beggar (his name is Markwardt) tries to get Parsons' sympathy by telling the story of how he became blind.

In his story, he blames a coworker for climbing over him in the rush to escape the accident that blinded him.  It is at this point that Parsons protests -- he was the coworker and Markwardt climbed over him.  Now they are both blind.

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