Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Country of the Blind” aptly reflects H. G. Wells’s criticism of both human limitations and possibilities. It illustrates his belief in the gradual advancement of humanity through evolution and scientific innovation in which the ideas of liberated individuals intrude on a conformistic society. Núñez, figuratively, is the person of imagination in revolt against his social environment. He is the person who sees among those who do not see. As a symbol of an open mind among conformists, he is the opposite of the author’s perception of the average, admirable citizen. The average citizen to Wells is a person dominated by the everyday routine of obtaining the physical necessities of life. This citizen is a person of prejudice, convention, habit, and imitation. All of this deprives the person of spiritual appetite, of a thirst for knowledge. It is this characterization of the blind men that gives the story its profoundly pessimistic outlook.

The symbolic meaning of the story hinges on the fact that the gift of sight symbolizes the human mind. Sight is a human being’s reason; it creates the urge to think and search for truth. To live in blindness or darkness means to live in ignorance. Núñez’s fate is meant to reflect the fate of the bearer of the light of truth. He offers spiritual light that has literally fallen from heaven in an attempt to enlighten the darkened minds of humankind. The blind men, however, do not acknowledge his mission nor...

(The entire section is 412 words.)