The Blind Man
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In the short story Apocalypse, D.H Lawrence writes, “We cannot bear connection… We must break away, and be isolate. We call that being free, being individual.” Lawrence puts forward the idea that people are afraid of emotional connection: Maintaining a distance will promote growth. Whereas emotional or personal affection will handicap one’s existence and freedom.
In the short story “The Blind Man,” Lawrence reiterates these themes in the climatic scene at the end of the story. Lawrence illustrates through symbolism, diction and character Bertie Reid’s need to be private and Maurice Pervin’s need to be connected.
The vocabulary an author uses to describe the way a character speaks and thinks, helps the reader to better understand who the character is. In “The Blind Man,” Bertie Reid’s character uses more complicated words, while Maurice Pervin uses more simplified words. When Maurice asks Bertie to touch his scar, “Bertie quiver[s] with revulsion”(12). Further down in the passage Maurice is described as “trembling in every fiber”(15). The way the two characters describe the same action shows how complicated Bertie’s world is, and how simple Maurice’s is. Bertie uses bigger words to show class distinction.
He wants to be singular. “The blind man [‘s]” application of elementary vocabulary show’s his simple nature. He uses simple terms to illustrate to Bertie that he wants to be close to him. Throughout the passage one notices that the author uses both “the blind man” and Maurice when talking about said character. When Lawrence writes about Maurice and his thoughts and actions, he uses Maurice’s name. When he is describing what Maurice is doing to Bertie he uses the term “the blind man.” At the beginning of the passage Maurice is “…touching… the rough, short mustache… the rather strong chin,”(4) of Bertie. Bertie becomes suddenly aware that he is “under the power of the blind man”(13). Bertie is afraid to say Maurice Pervin’s name. He is afraid of becoming intimate with him. Using “the blind man” is Bertie’s way of staying alienated from Maurice.
In a short story the goal of an author is to portray a character so vividly the reader can relate to one or more of the individuals in the story. In “The Blind Man,” Lawrence illustrates clearly the two main characters. Bertie’s fear of touch shows how afraid of intimacy he is. At the beginning of the passage, “he suffered as the blind man stretched a strong, naked hand to him”(2). Bertie is so afraid of touch that he suffers through the touch of the “the blind man.” His inability to connect with anybody causes him to degenerate from the inside out. At the beginning of the story Isabel talks about how much Maurice dislikes Bertie, however, in this passage the reader sees a dramatic change in his attitude.
Maurice has grown and feels the need to connect with Bertie, not for his own sake, but for the sake of his wife. Early in the story it seems as though Maurice has put Bertie on a pedestal, but in this part of the story Maurice is bringing Bertie back to the level that he should be. During the passage Maurice remarks that he thought Bertie was “taller,”(3) that his” head seems tender, as if [he] were young”(9). This text indicates “the blind man,” taking Bertie off the pedestal he was on and trying to connect on a more intimate level while “Bertie stood as if in a swoon, unconscious, imprisoned”(16). Bertie feels “like a mollusc whose shell is broken.” Bertie has never been studied with so much interest and fine detail had like Maurice has done. Bertie wants to leave the Pervin residence and take refuge in his private place. The idea of symbols in a story is to say something without actually writing it down. Symbolism is a way an author can get his or her readers to look deeper into the story and perhaps discover an underlying meaning. In the passage being studied there are two specific symbols.
The first is the hat at the beginning. In earlier times hats were meant to denote profession and rank. Often a hat is a sign of superior status. At the beginning of the climatic scene “Maurice accidentally knocked off Bertie’s hat”(2). Throughout the story, the reader may notice that Maurice does not wear a hat. This is representative of the fact that Maurice no longer has a position in life. The knocking off of the hat was not accidental. Maurice did it on purpose. He is looking for a way to become more intimate with Bertie, who was a stranger to him. Maurice is bringing Bertie down to his level in life, forcing Bertie to be intimate when he is afraid of it. The second symbol that is evident in the passage is the reference between the “full, closed eyes,”(4) and the “disfigured eye-sockets”(15). Bertie’s eyes are his strength and his weakness.
They are his way of seeing the world and also of not seeing the world. His eyes are his way of being able to stay isolated from people that he is afraid of. Likewise, Maurice’s “eye-sockets”(15) are his strengths. Since he hasn’t any eyes to judge people, he is able to connect through his touch. Something that Bertie “wanted to do so. But he could not.” While Bertie is jealous of Maurice’s ability to be intimate, Maurice is jealous of Bertie’s intellect.
Even though both characters compliment each other so well, Bertie is intent on keeping to himself, staying isolated.
Bertie Reid’s need to be seclusive and Maurice Pervin’s need to be intimate are illustrated through D.H.Lawrence’s symbols, word usage and highly developed characters. Through these two characters, one was able to see the hardships and heartaches associated with the breaking of bonds of depression. Although people may change dramatically after the bonds have been broken, it is always for the best.