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"Where you headed, boss?" the driver said. I turned slowly, a very sober look on my face, and pointed. "Out there," I said.

"There ain’t no buses runnin’ that way, boss. That’s the bridge."

"I know," I said, straight-faced, fucking with him. What the hell. A blink can’t walk out on a bridge without blowing skirts up. (Wheeler, 1989: 11, 125, 266)

The tenor of this portrayal is ridicule, for there is an implicit criticism of the suggested link between suicide and visual impairment, much as in The Insult, where it is suspected that Martin ‘might be harbouring suicidal thoughts’, that he ‘might have been about to swallow bleach or some other convenient domestic poison’ (Thomson, 1996: 21). The problem is that while Timmy, Hester, Patrick and Martin make no attempt to kill themselves, the spectre of suicide is raised and the reader referred covertly, perhaps unconsciously, to an ancient mode of representation.

The second form of depiction involves not parodic or cursory invocation but a blind character’s consideration of suicide as a viable option, a scenario that tended to appear as a prayer in writing of the Victorian era. For instance, in the novel Jane Eyre, Rochester says, ‘I supplicated God, that, if it seemed good to Him, I might soon be taken from this life’ (Brontë, 1847/1994: 441); in The Light That Failed, Dick ‘prayed to God that his mind might be taken from him, offering for proof that he was worthy of this favour the fact that he had not shot himself long ago’ (Kipling, 1891/1988: 170); and in the novel The End of the Tether, Captain Whalley says, ‘It seems to me that, like the blinded Samson, I would find the strength to shake down a temple upon my head. [. . .] I’ve been praying for death


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