Blind as a bat is a well known phrase universally. If the phrase is used toward someone it means that they can not see well and in some cases may have zero ability to use their sight. In Toni Bambara‘s “My Man Bovanne” she introduces the reader to Bovanne, a blind handyman, with which Miss Hazel takes a liking to. In a quick reading of this short story it may seem as though Bovanne being blind is a minor detail but as the story unfolds and Bambara reveals the was Miss Hazel is treated by her children and the way her children are being “brain-washed” and “blinded” by popular beliefs of Black Power, it is evident that the handyman’s blindness is a metaphor.
” He ain’t my man mind you, just a nice ole gent from the block that we all know cause he fixes things and the kids like him. Or used to fore Black Power got hold their minds and mess em around till they can’t be civil to ole folks” (555).
“I don’t answer cause I’ll cry. Terrible thing when your children talk to you like that. Pullin me out the party and hustlin me into some stranger’s kitchen in the back of a bar just like the damn police. And ain’t like I’m old old. I can still wear me some sleeveless dresses without the meat hanging off my arm. And I keep up with some thangs through my kids. Who ain’t kids no more. To hear them tell it. So I don’t say nuthin”(556).
Through these passages within the story and a few others, Bambara creates the statement that her children are the blind ones. They think they are fixing her and making things better but instead they are degrading her and turning their backs on the elders who have much to teach them. They are blind to the fact that their mother is a woman and she can dance if she wants with whomever she pleases and them telling her she looks foolish or “Like a bitch in heat” (556) is breaking her not fixing her in anyway.
This short story sends a message of rights and wrongs and the misguided directions off those who think they know the way. There is no set way to get the right results for anything, there is only the hope of trying and Bambara may be applying this in motherhood and power and status within this story.