School for the Blind

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND presents the lives of retirees living in a small town in Florida and the slow but inevitable decline. The principal characters, Muriel and Francis Brimm, now in their seventies, are siblings who were born in the small town. Muriel has lived there all her life, and Francis has returned to retire there.

Both have spent their lives looking outward—Francis through the lens of a camera, and Muriel through her refusal to acknowledge her past.

As they work through their inner problems, they are involved in an ongoing murder investigation which results when Francis finds human bones on the golf course near his home. There is very little progress on the case, yet their lives are touched by it. As the Brimms begin to make sense of their refusal to look within, their lives are further complicated by the arrival of Deirdre, a young pregnant woman. She is also an alcoholic and a drug abuser, although recovering, and is full of all the doubts of a young mother.

McFarland presents an in-depth look at the emotional lives of his characters, and the situations that arise from the discoveries made as the characters go inward. An introspective work, this novel attempts to create something that is rare today: a work of literature. The action is secondary to the emotional life of the characters, and the characters are forced to grow within themselves to learn what they are about. Through the darkness, they finally learn to see.