The Blind Man Summary
by D. H. Lawrence

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The Blind Man Summary

This short story is set in an isolated farm in the English countryside where a blinded war veteran by the name of Maurice lives with his pregnant wife, Isabel. The story opens with Isabel sitting in the Grange, the name of the couple's abode, listening for the sounds of her husband returning from the barn and for the carriage of her friend Bertie Reid. Beginning the story with Isabel listening rather than watching for the two men is Lawrence's way of indicating that this is Maurice's world, a world where one must employ different senses to understand their surroundings. Ultimately, Isabel decides to go and fetch her husband back to the house, though when she enters the barn she feels nervous, given that she cannot see him too well in the dark. He shares her feelings of anxiety, and the pair discuss it while returning to the house, though neither can identify the source of it.

Bertie then arrives. While prior to the war he and Maurice had disliked one another, it had been Maurice's idea to invite the other man over when his wife mentioned a note that Bertie had sent her bemoaning the decline of their friendship. The three have dinner together, though conversation is difficult. Maurice in particular seems uncomfortable, as indicated by his upright posture. As soon as is polite, Maurice excuses himself and returns to his barn, leaving the two friends to catch up. Later in the night, Bertie volunteers to go and see how Maurice is doing—but, like Isabel, he feels uncomfortable negotiating the dark barn.

The two men enter into a conversation, and Maurice asks if he can touch Bertie's face, a request that Bertie grants, though not without apprehension. The experience is affirming to Maurice, who remarks that the other man seems younger and smaller than he had imagined him. Maurice then asks Bertie to touch his scarred eyes, thus demonstrating his heightened recognition of the world around him, as well as his understanding that Bertie, while able to adapt to situations (as in his agreement to be touched and touch Maurice in return), is psychologically fragile nonetheless.

When the pair return to the house, Isabel immediately sees what her husband has not: namely, that Bertie has been shaken by the experience and desires an immediate exit from an intimacy for which he was not prepared.

Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Maurice Pervin, a world war veteran, has settled on a farm in the English Midlands after being blinded in combat during his second tour of army duty in Flanders. He and his wife, Isabel, have employed a tenant couple to manage the farm. Maurice discusses details of production with his manager and assists him with such tasks as attending to the domestic animals, while Isabel continues to review books for a Scottish newspaper. She is pregnant and the Pervins are both anxious about the child because their firstborn died in infancy during Maurice’s initial posting in France. During the year that the Pervins have been living on the farm, a wonderful intimacy has developed between them as Isabel has devoted herself to her husband’s needs, and their “connubial absorption” has effectively shut out the world beyond the farm. Isabel has joined Maurice in a private realm of solitude approximating the darkness of his existence, and she shares to some extent his “dark, palpable joy,” but the absence of any contact with society has also produced a void within her, inducing a feeling of exhaustion and emptiness. When Maurice is struck with devastating depressions that cause him to question his value as a man following his loss of vision, Isabel finds it impossible to be with him in spite of her professed commitment.

At this crucial juncture in the Pervins’ lives, one of Isabel’s old acquaintances, Bertie Reid, a Scottish barrister, arrives for a visit. He and Isabel have shared a cerebral friendship—an instinctive understanding—since childhood, and Isabel is eager to renew their sprightly conversation and become involved with someone who is actively...

(The entire section is 1,345 words.)