The story, “The Man Born Blind” was written by C.S Lewis and first published in 1977.Though there has been the adoption of this story that has emerged such the most recent “Light”,the original story in this classic works by Lewis is still fascinating in meaning as well asmetaphor.
It is a story about Robin, a man who had been blind but through surgery, he can regainhis sight. He is very moved by the concept of light which since birth, had never experiencedbefore and he seems very inquisitive about this issue. However, his wife`s definition of light didnot fulfil his curiosity and convinced she has no single understanding of it; Robin sets out togather this information on his own. As a person recovering from blindness, Robin feels thatMary does not empathize with his condition and shows no efforts of helping him understandconcepts new to him such as that of light.
Robin is, therefore feeling frustrated, disappointed, andconfused which may have also led to the sudden ending of this story.First, it is important to acknowledge Robin`s excitement for gaining sight like otherpeople. At the beginning of the story, Mary is portrayed as surprised at how late it was and yetRobin was barely asleep. She wanted him to be fresh because the following day, she would betaking him for his first walk. However, Robin is not interested in catching sleep but is curiousabout the things he will be experiencing the following day. In normal circumstances, it isunderstandable what Robin might be experiencing at the time.
Ruiz 2In fact, the author puts it that Robin`s heart was beating so loudly that he was concernedthat it would affect his speech (Lewis, 127). The fact that his heart was racing is a sign of panic,anxiety, or fear. It is normal for the body to react to this situations since they make up thebiological set up of the human body. It is possible that Robin was afraid of what light looks likeand whether he would stand the sight of light. As he makes it clear, Robin always thought oflight as some object that was tangible, and now that he had restored sight, he was anxious aboutseeing what it looked like.Additionally, at this point, Robin might have been in a state of panic because he wasaware that the following day they would be taking a walk and might come into contact with light.Further, this explains why he could not fall asleep even though it was getting late into the night.His possible loss of speech and the increased heart rate are positive signs of panic.
Also, whenMary insists on him sleeping for his walk the following day, Robin first question was whetherthey would see the light (Lewis, 1 para. 3). The actual line where Robin asks this questioncontains ellipsis marks that indicate omission of words and which can be understood to meanhesitation in this context.
To the readers, it is very overwhelming how much Robin is devoted to understanding theconcept of light. On the other hand, his wife Mary does not seem to understand what his husbandis going through or the feeling he has about the fact that he does not find what he wants. As aman, it is outright that Robin wants to be independent and the only way he can do this is throughthe light. His disappointment is clear that he does not want to be dependent on his wife like hewas when he was blind.
Robin also makes it clear that even at the point of his operation, all he thought about waslight and now that he has his sight back, he wants to see this light. Hence, the fact that Mary doesRuiz 3not provide sufficient answers to his questions makes him feel disappointed. Disappointed notbecause of his wife but of the fact that all he had gone through might have been a waste of timeand energy. At one point in their argument, Robin asks about being lied to by Milton which alsoshows that he has a feeling of being deceived (Lewis, 129 Para. 6).
He is angry because he feelsthat either his wife or Milton is lying to him.It is inevitable to think of light metaphorically as would be the case with any other workof literature. In this view, Robin`s curiosity to know more about light seems to refer to forces hehas within him to know more about himself.
In fact, after a heated argument which in the endannoyed Mary, Robin comments how lonely he was as a blind man, and now that he has sight, ithas not become any better. In this context, Robin is expressing his disappointment of a life thathe thought of as being better than the one he was living but which has turned out to be quite theopposite.Metaphorically, light can be taken to represent Robin`s future and the darkness of his lifeas a blind man to be the past. When he talks about how he thought of light during his operation,this refers to the desires, plans and aspirations of the future. However, after the operation, Robindoes not seem to find this light, and he realizes that what people refer to as light does not fit inthe imagination of light he has always had. Similarly, Robin had so many aspirations andobjectives which he thought were limited due to his blindness. Now that he has sight, he comesto the harsh realization that things were not as easy as he had contemplated them and it is evenharder to achieve this goal with his sight.He tends to blame other people for this disappointment, but it does not feel any better.
Itis also for this same reason that he feels he has no friends. Robin says that a blind man has fewfriends, but one who has recently received his sight has none (Lewis, 130 Para. 3). Subsequently,Ruiz 4Robin realizes that he is shifting blame and inflicting his pain on others such as Mary.
That iswhy he apologizes to her just before they get to bed. However, he concludes that no oneunderstands his problems and struggles and he has to do it on his own.It also explains the reason why during their walk, Robin had resolved to keep matters tohimself and accented to everything his wife said. It is said that acceptance is the first step tohealing and at this point, Robin seems to be accepting his new condition and trying much to livewith it. Consequently, this does not stop him from searching for his true self (light), he does thison his own avoiding any chances that he would have to ask questions. He finds out that otherpeople are different from him and would not understand his situation.
He makes this clear whenhe says that he would not ask any questions since people would think that he is mad (Lewis, 130Para. 3).Though he is still in some denial, his condition at this point has evolved and tended tothink more rationally. He is also seen to be more understanding when he tries to figure out whathis wife`s answers would be to the questions he had (Lewis, 130 Para.
3). He is also morerational than he was before and tries to avoid trouble or any confrontation which is very wise ofhim. Most importantly, Robin defers his questions and curiosity to a time when would be able toseek the answers on his own or as the author states, “till he could learn to walk on his own”.
Freedom is another aspect of Robin`s situations that make him feel that Mary does notempathize with his condition. For a long time, Robin had been dependent on people as a blindperson and freedom is one of the things he had to sacrifice. Since most of the time he had to relyon someone for help, freedom and independence got lost on the way. Now that he had regainedsight, he expected that he would be free from his wife, but that does not seem to happen. It isRuiz 5clear that Robin had not been free even when he portrays the feeling of relief when his wife feelssick and she had to stay in bed (Lewis, 131 Para.
1).To portray the extent of his disappointment in this current life, Robin at some point closeshis eyes and assumes to be blind. It would be impossible for someone of the right sense of mindto put such a play, but for someone in Robin`s situation, this is understandable. It also shows thathe feels unworthy in his current situation even more helpless than when he was blind he misseshis life as a blind man. To emphasize on this disappointment, he goes over the brails and isportrayed as comparing reading as a blind man and using his eyes. He says that reading a brail isway much better and cannot be compared with reading through the eyes (Lewis, 131).
The state of confusion about his current life and the old one as well as the aspirations hehad to continue to manifest even more severely. Now, Robin is convinced that Mary knewnothing about light no more than he knew about it. In this context, Robin is portrayed asquestioning Mary`s judgment even with the obvious. It is ironic that Robin is judging Mary`sunderstanding of light yet she has had her sight all her life yet Robin just gained his.
Hence, thisirony points to the fact that the author may not be referring to light in the literal sense butmetaphorically.Consequently, that would mean that Robin is questioning Mary`s judgment andunderstanding of life. Robin feels that Mary has a misconceived perception of what life is as wellas other people who look like her. Further, he makes the claim that their understanding of life isbased on the teachings handed to them by their forefathers. In this view, Robin is portraying thatMary has been living a lie all her life. Also, that he is willing to get a better and more meaningfulunderstanding of life on his own. He hoped and still believed that there was a better purpose inlife even if not on the land they lived.Ruiz 6Robin frustrations lead him to a quarry, a place he perceives as quiet and one where hecould have a piece of his mind.
They had been there with Mary before, and memories startedflowing to him of how she spoke about the light. The author uses this scene to illustrate the loveRobin had for his wife and that even though he was not with her, he missed her. His shadow isdescribed as dark and grew even darker as he looked at it. Here, the shadow portrays his past life,and the more he focused on it, the more it became a mystery to him.
He is also portrayed asbeing concerned that still, there was no light. That is to mean; he was yet to find his meaning inthis new life (Lewis, 132, Para. 2).In conclusion, this story is full of metaphor but still has a lot of meaning.
Mary is pleasedthat finally, her husband can see but to Robin, this is more of a nightmare than good news. He isdisappointed that he cannot achieve the one thing that inspired him to want to see. More so, he isdisappointed that even his wife is not able to help with this situations. The disappointments leadhim to solace, and he suddenly misses his past life as a blind man. He confesses to hisfrustrations when he says that he has no friends even though he can see.
He perceives his life asharder rather than simpler now that he can see. Metaphorically the author uses the aspect of lightto compare Robin`s past life as a blind man to the current life where he has his sight. As the storyunfolds, it is clear that Robin is struggling getting the meaning of his life now. He even triesother people such as his wife but he is frustrated that even she cannot help him.
He results todoing it on his own because he perceives other people as fools who have been living a lie thatwas conceived by their forefathers. However, even at the point where this story ends, it is not clear what light meant to Robin and whether he really finds its true meaning.Works CitedLewis C.
S. “The Man Born Blind,” The Dark Tower and Other Stories, Mariner Books, 1977,168 pages.