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Reading: Blind Survival: Disability and Horror in Josh Malerman's Bird Box

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Blind Survival: Disability and Horror in Josh Malerman's Bird Box

Author:

Laura R. Kremmel

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, US
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Abstract

Josh Malerman’s 2014 apocalyptic horror novel, Bird Box, reverses Gothic depictions of disability as monstrous or metaphor for ignorance or weakness by presenting disability as protection. Creatures roam the earth, the mere sight of which causes immediate insanity, violence, and suicide. This unexplained event introduces blindness as a necessary choice, complicating the dichotomy between blindness and sight by making sight a fatal disability. I argue that this novel pushes the boundaries of ocularcentric thought through both a version of horror independent of visual spectacle and a depiction of a community that thrives by revising attitudes towards visual impairment. Despite the significant exposure and punishment of ocularcentrism that the novel presents, its main character struggles to surpass her old, societal judgment of blindness when outside the community that helps her relearn new ways to navigate the world. The nonlinear narrative highlights a tension between blindness as life-saving and blindness as monstrous. The novel closes with the dread-filled reminder that true revision of ableist attitudes requires more than horror—even inclusive horror—to overcome fear-inspired stigma.

How to Cite: Kremmel, L.R., 2019. Blind Survival: Disability and Horror in Josh Malerman's Bird Box. Studies in Gothic Fiction, 6(1), pp.42–52. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/sgf.18
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Published on 20 Jan 2019.
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