The unnamed character in this section of “The Maker” by Jorge Luis Borges has lived through a lot in his life, and throughout these experiences he has collected memories full of details in all of the five senses, but especially sight. He most vividly remembers visiting a mythic like town with whimsical mountains, the type which might be inhabited by satyrs. The character is the type of person who believes in stories without regard for their reality. The character begins to go blind; he can no longer clearly make out the natural environment around him and begins to lose himself. He breaks down once he realizes he is losing his sight, and begins to imagine the loss of the world around him. He wakes up one day and suddenly comes to peace with his deteriorating condition; he accepts his near blindness and welcomes the unknown future with an air of adventure. He digs into his memory, then, and recalls when he was little and another child bullied him. The character had complained to his father, who sat there and seemed to ignore everything. At the end of the young main character’s vent, the father handed him a bronze dagger (which the child had wanted since forever) and tells him to prove himself as a man. The memory continues with the child challenging the bully to a fight, pulling out the knife, and coming back home with a bloodied blade. Another memory, him finding his way with eyesight through a maze for a woman he desires, follows the first. He wonders why these, of all memories, came to him. Suddenly, he understands- in the journey of blindness he is about to embark on, lives love and danger. His life will not cease to be just because he can no longer see. He compares his impending descent to the epic journeys of Greek heroes, and soon falls into irreversible darkness.
AND INTO THE ANALYSIS STUFF WE GO…
The piece starts out with a bold statement of how the character is the type to believe whimsical stories thoroughly and fully. Through the piece, he compares his experiences to those of the fabled greats found in mythology. To him, this has all occurred before; he takes solace in the fact that greater people than him, his childhood heroes, have been through worse and got through life’s struggles by living them as an adventure. The main character is still a child at heart, and has not stopped believing in the reassuring messages of these myths. He directly compares his upcoming experience in a world without sight as a Greek hero embarking on an adventure. He therefore sees himself as going on a journey of trials and trivial misfortunes, each misstep making up a bigger scope of an epic adventure. Although this is an optimistic view, the main character believes everything will turn out OK not because he genuinely believes that his situation will end up OK, but because the characters he sees himself as turn out OK in their adventures. His mechanism for coping with his loss of sight is viewing his life as nothing more than a story, with himself as the hero for which life will inevitably turn out alright. The ironic part of this is that while most Greek heroes do survive epic adventures, most of them eventually died painful deaths, and usually separated from their love interests. Thus, the main character’s solace in his descent to “love and danger” is a lie, as blindness in his old age will most likely not lead to a romantic representation of either of those. This highlights the important distinction in life between stories and life, truth and fiction, delusion and reality. It is vital to hold both in one’s mind, as hope lives within the could-be’s of fiction, but it is important to continue grounding oneself in reality to be prepared for the future.
Through the gradual blinding of the main character, we can see him lose his sense of self and continuously adapt a Greek hero-type view of himself, thus gradually losing touch of reality. While he is losing reality and the world around him, however, the main character becomes increasingly enriched in his own mind. The descent to darkness of the real world in turn represents a journey into the self, as the character’s dreams and fantasy-infused memories of his experiences are the only things he is able to view, in the end.
My favorite part about this piece is that it is an autobiography. The main character is Borges, the author, who struggled with losing his eyesight piece by piece from the age of 55 until he became fully blind. He has infused himself into the piece as the main character; his memories, his struggles, his delusions became that of the character. I would like to “steal” this openness in Borges’s writing, as I feel like his willingness to spill his soul on paper is what made this piece feel so humanistic and wholesome. It felt real. I’d like to begin creating this feeling of real in my writing.