Our adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s short story, The Blind Man
Why does the sunlight make us feel so happy? The whole sky is blue, the fields are green, and the houses are white. Our eyes enjoy those bright colours, and they bring us happiness. When we see the sun, we want to dance, run, sing, and think happy thoughts.
But the blind, as they sit at their doorways, unmoving in their darkness, always stay calm*. Life is lived all around them, but they never know.
Once, there lived a blind boy. He was the son of a poor French farmer. He lived with his mother and father all his life, and they looked after him. But his mother and father died, and he was left alone. This was a hard start to life, and it made him unhappy. He went to live with an older sister and her husband. They did not want him, and his brother-in-law treated* him badly. At dinner, they gave him little or no food, and he went hungry. They called him names and fed him like a dog with scraps* off the table. He never said anything or showed anger. People called him bad names. Did he ever hear the names? No one knew. His face never showed any emotion*. He did not know love of any kind. When he finished his dinner in summer, he would sit outside. When he finished his dinner in winter, he would sit by the fire and not move.
For years it went on this way. He could not work, and his family began to resent* him more and more. They called him more names and played jokes on him. They brought cats and dogs in to eat with him, and all the neighbours came to watch and laugh. But still the blind boy did not say anything.
His sister and brother-in-law starved* him; and slowly, the blind boy’s face got thinner and thinner. He sat beside the fire like stone. Only his eyelids* above his two big eyes moved. They trembled* sometimes. When he did move, he often fell down. Then, when he was on the ground, people liked to laugh at him. But they did not stop to help.
The blind boy could not work, and this made his brother-in-law very angry. So the torture* got worse. His brother-in-law and sister often gave him wood, leaves and even dirt to eat. They also banged their feet on the floor to frighten* him. Then this brother-in-law started to hit him. He did this at home and in the street. When people saw him do it, they hit the blind boy too and laughed. The blind boy tried to hit them back, but he couldn’t. He missed and fell over. To keep people away, the blind boy started to walk with his arms out. But people still hit him.
In the end, to get food, the blind boy started to beg*. He sat in the road with his hand out and said, ‘Help me, please. I am a poor, blind boy.’ But most days, he got nothing.
Then, one winter’s day, when there was snow on the ground, the brother-in-law took the blind boy far, far away. Then he left him. The poor blind boy did not know the road home. When the blind boy did not return that night, the brother-in-law lied to the blind boy’s sister. ‘He is not lost,’ he told her. ‘He cannot go a day without eating our food: he is going to come back soon!’
So no one worried and went on with their lives.
The blind boy – cold, hungry and close to death – got up from the road and started to walk. He was lost and very cold. He stumbled and fell again and again, but he never made a sound. He only wanted to find a house. He only wanted to find a warm, safe place.
It started to snow. His tired legs could walk no further. He stopped and sat down in an open field. He did not get up again. Large, white snowflakes fell all night. By morning, his body was under a smooth, white *blanket. His sister and brother-in-law did not miss him, but they *pretended to care. They asked about him and looked for him, but only for a week.
It was a long hard winter and the snow was slow to *melt. One Sunday, on his way to church, a young farmer saw some *crows above a field. They dropped down to a spot on the ground and then flew up into the air, over and over again. The next week, there were more of them. Their calls were loud and excited. ‘What are they doing? Why are they there?’ the young farmer asked himself. The young farmer went into the field. There, he found the blind man’s body in the melted snow. The farmer looked at the body’s face. It had no eyes.
In life, the blind man’s eyes were useless; and in death, they were food for the crows.
This is the blind man’s story, and I think about it every time I see the sun and feel its warmth on my face.
Adaptation by EFLshorts.com
* beg – plead
*blanket – cover
*calm – not upset, relaxed
*crows – a large, black bird
*emotion – strong feeling
*eyelids – the skin that covers our eyes
*frighten – scare
*melt – to turn from ice to water
*pretended – behaved to make it appear that it was true when it was not
*resent – feel bitter about, have a grudge about
*scraps – a small amount of uneaten food
*starved – not given any food
*torture – cause extreme physical and/or mental harm
*treated – acted towards, deal with
*trembled – shook