avoid the obvious challenge that the facts are simply reflected in the fiction, the paper will then give consideration to the converse scenario that situates visual restoration in a causal relationship with suicide. The conclusion will focus on the division that exists between “the blind” and “the sighted”, a metaphysical chasm that cannot be crossed but can be displaced by an awareness of the frequently obscured reality that visual acuity has no bearing on ontological status.
Suicide in Depictions of Visual Impairment
What can be found in a number of nineteenth and twentieth- century depictions of people with impaired vision is a suicide motif that takes three forms: invocation, contemplation and action.
The invocation of suicide is not always of consequence to character or plot, sometimes only serving to refer readers to the ancient paradigm of blindness. For example, although in the late nineteenth-century novel The Light That Failed, Mrs Beeton’s erroneous assertion that Dick is ‘going to shoot himself’ (Kipling, 1891/1988: 188) anticipates his subsequent suicide, there is no such justification in the early twentieth- century novel Invitation to the Waltz, where Marigold refers to the blind character Timmy by saying, ‘If it was me I’d shoot every one I could lay hands on and then myself’ (Lehmann, 1932/1981: 289). Nevertheless, it is at this level that twentieth- century novels are most progressive. In Death Kit, for instance, the myth is disrupted because not the blind character Hester but her sighted lover, Diddy, attempts suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping tablets and lies in his bed, on the verge of post-coital slumber, wanting to say, ‘[L]et’s die together. Let’s kill ourselves’ (Sontag, 1967/2001: 6, 273). Moreover, in Snakewalk, Patrick Todd derides the ‘very high rate of suicide’, jokes with Tania that due to her absence he ‘contemplated suicide a couple times’ and teases a bus driver as follows: