Blindness is a story of a mass epidemic where the people of an entire city go blind and a narrative of the social breakdown that follows including government attempts to contain the contagion and keep order via increasingly repressive measures.
The first part of the novel covers the experiences of the central characters in the filthy, overcrowded asylum where they and other blind folks have been quarantined. Hygiene, living conditions, and morale degrade horrifically quickly, mirroring the society outside.
The story then follows “the doctor” and his wife as they attempt to survive outside, cared for largely by the doctor’s wife, who still sees. The breakdown of society is near total. Law and order, social services, government, schools, etc., no longer function. The doctor and his wife and their new “family” eventually make a permanent home and are establishing a new order to their lives when the blindness lifts from the city en masse just as suddenly and inexplicably as it struck.