Blindness, as a literal term in the first connotation, is “sightless; difficult to comprehend or see.” (Webster 103). When one thinks of something blind, they think of a physical blindness of shuteyes and glasses. Yet, when one looks deeper into the definition of blindness, one may realize that blindness is not just a disease of the eye, it is a disease of the heart, the soul and the mind. Blindness makes one turn away from family, love and even sanity.
Blindness is powerful. Blindness can kill, both physically and spiritually. In Evelyn Lau’s Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, Evelyn Lau suffers during her life on the streets because she refuses to accept the reality that she cannot exist by herself, without the aid of others who truly love her. Her view of a free world actually confines her and makes her vulnerable to the world at large because she is blind to the truth. She is blind to love, blind to aid and, though somewhat solipsist, blind to even herself.
Evelyn fails to see the love in the way her parents decide to raise her. She believes homelessness, where she can live by her own rules, at the age of fourteen, will solve her issues of confinement at home. In a fit of anger, she writes, “Haven’t my parents ostracized me enough?” (Lau 15). In this, Evelyn attributes the actions of her parents to the problems she faces while on the streets. Because she feels they raise her incorrectly, she forces herself into a life as a homeless, teenage, drug addict, prostitute, and yet still blames it on her parents. Homelessness is not an option of last resort for a teenager that lives in a stable household: it is an all out choice.
She believes that their actions are completely bizarre, though in truth, are quite common by other parents. Evelyn considers parents to be ruthless and blind to her needs, yet she fails to recognize that it is the only way they know how to raise a child. Her parents teach respect and discipline through “tough” love. She takes the actions of her parents and denotes negative connotations to all of them to justify her own opinion. Evelyn feels that when her parents confine her and refuse to let her leave the house on some occasions, it is a deliberate attack on her persona. When they refuse her to creatively write, something in which Evelyn is kept sane, she believes that they have absolutely no intention to understand what is important to her. One can agree that Evelyn’s parents ask very much of her, yet it is no reason to run away from home. The love Evelyn’s parents show for her is difficult to accept, but Evelyn is not only blind to it, she also refuses to truly search for it.
Throughout Evelyn’s endeavours as a street kid, she, on many occasions, permits herself into and out of child services, hospitals, “friends'” homes and psychiatric wards, while still unable to see who truly wishes to aid her. She continuously catches herself in her own ideals of freedom and independence while she endlessly makes the wrong decisions. Child services is an association that takes in this helpless child on many occasions and tries continually to put her on the right path of life, yet she always decides to run from the only organizations that truly tries to help her. Because they set down rules for her to follow to keep clean from drugs and off the streets, she believes they try to harm her persona; they remind her of her parents – the thing she ran away from.
Evelyn blinds herself from the world that aids her and runs to her own free world: the houses and hotels of so-called friends. These friends entice her to live in the world that she craves, away from the rules and structure where she can be free to write and rebel. These friends are not there to aid her, though; they are there to make her an addict, a prostitute, a weak link of which they can take advantage. She is sightless to their true intentions because of her naivety. Because she is unable to see true aid in counselors, psychiatrists and doctors, she spirals herself deeper and deeper into addiction, prostitution and horrible decisions.
Though Evelyn’s runs away to escape from the social boundaries and the reality of a life at home run by her parents – a bid for the freedom of self – she becomes blind to herself in which she loses self esteem, self respect, and self discipline. She loses sight of her culture, her values and her spirituality. Evelyn no longer has control of her life; drugs now control her life. She must prostitute herself to survive and keep her addiction; yet she refuses to be humble and return home where she can achieve a state of safety and sanity more easily than on the streets. She tries on her own to rid of her addiction but it is no use, “I’m trying very hard to cut down.
I’m dancing as fast as I can – torn between the importance of my writing and the seduction of drugs. The colors of the pills are so pretty…”(Lau 197). Here, she shows that even though she realizes that she has a choice, she continues to take the wrong path because her blindness affects the order of her priorities. She continues on to say, “I could become one of the top writers in Canada, or I could be a drug addict, or I could die. These are the choices.”(Lau 197). Evelyn still realizes that she has an option; she still has the ability to go back and right the wrongs, but the blinders that the street and supposed freedom have put upon Evelyn’s eyes inhibit her to make that conclusion.
Evelyn’s blindness of love, aid and herself truly cause her to suffer throughout the novel. Without the foundation of family, Evelyn has no chance of survival. Human nature states that one cannot exist without the other; in this, solitary confinement is the most severe penalty one can receive. Evelyn experiences a mental state of solitude on the streets, with only her writings that keep her sane. She is fortunate to find such escape in something so intellectual, or else insanity is inevitable. Though Evelyn turns out to be a prize-winning Canadian author, it is evident that this dark spot on her childhood will remain with her forever, not as just a horrible period of her life, but as a learning curve. Evelyn grows every time she revisits her horrible street life, just as society should learn from its horrible mistakes.
Ask Grandpa: Solipsism. (15 December 2004) http://home.swipnet.se/~w-18693/IEsolipsism.htm
Lau, Evelyn. Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 1989.
Thornton, Stephen P. Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds. (15 December 2004) http://www.iep.utm.edu/s/solipsis.htm
Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language. New York: Lexicon Publications Inc., 1988.