The Blind Man (Maupassant)

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The Blind Man
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A blind man suffered a cruel life of abuse and neglect from his family and community, eventually dying alone in a snow-covered field, his body discovered only when crows began to feast on it.

A blind man lived a life of suffering and isolation in a small village. He was the son of a Norman farmer and was taken care of by his parents until they passed away. After their death, he was taken in by his sister and her family, who treated him as a burden and a nuisance.

The Blind Man — peasant; son of a Norman farmer; large, pale eyes; impassive, silent, and helpless.
The Sister — blind man's sister; harsh, unkind, and resentful of her brother's presence.
The Brother-in-law — sister's husband; cruel, abusive, and exploitative towards the blind man.

He was given just enough food to survive and was constantly insulted and belittled by his family and the villagers. The blind man's life took a turn for the worse when his family began to play cruel jokes on him during meal times. They would place animals or inedible objects in front of him, and the villagers would gather to watch and laugh as he struggled to eat. Eventually, they forced him to beg on the streets, but he rarely received any money from the stingy villagers.

One winter, the blind man's brother-in-law left him on a high road to beg for alms. The weather was freezing, and the blind man was unable to find his way back home.

He'll come back tomorrow to eat his broth all right.

He wandered aimlessly, falling into ditches and struggling to find shelter. Eventually, he succumbed to the cold and died in a field, his body slowly being covered by snow.

His family pretended to search for him for eight days, even shedding tears for his disappearance. It was only when a flock of crows began to gather over the field where he died that his body was discovered, half-eaten and torn apart by the birds.

His pale eyes had vanished, pricked out by the long, ravenous beaks.

The blind man's tragic death served as a relief to those who had known him, as his life had been filled with nothing but suffering and loneliness.