Was Eli in ‘The Book of Eli’ Blind? Explained

Was Eli in The Book of Eli Blind

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‘The Book of Eli’ is a famous post-apocalyptic movie starring Denzel Washington in a titular role. The movie has everything: faith, action, mystery, and one pretty major twist at the end, but considering that you’re asking this question, you already know how it ends. You’re here looking for confirmation whether Eli was blind or not. The answer is not as straightforward as we would like, but we have to admit even if Eli was only partially blind he still knew his way around post-apocalypse. Now, let’s answer our main question and analyze the arguments for Eli being blind.

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Eli was at least partially blind in the ‘The Book of Eli’ if not completely blind.
  • There are several clues pointing in that direction: the fact that he mostly relied on his hearing to locate the targets, the lack of eye contact with other survivors, and the fact that he was carrying around a Bible in Braille.
  • These arguments, however, don’t necessarily mean that he was completely blind, as in that scenario, his feats and survival in a drastically changed world would seem very unlikely.

The biblical character Eli was blind

Is Eli Blind

‘The Book of Eli’ is not based on any biblical story as far as I’m aware of, but the main character in the movie does draw some thematic inspiration from a figure that appears in The Old Testament named Eli. Eli was a high priest and a judge of Israel and was one of the vital figures that shaped the early life of Prophet Samuel.

He mostly served as a spiritual leader and as a symbol of judgment, and even though Eli from the movie can loosely find himself in these roles, since Eli carries a sacred book on a mission, feeling the sacred call of divine purpose. But as I’ve said the parallels are very loose, there is one thing that connects Eli from the Old Testament and Eli from the movie, and that’s the fact that both were visually impaired.

Many clues in the movie lead us to think that Eli was losing his sight progressively

For someone who was completely blind, Eli sure did know his way around the wasteland, and that’s not something that the viewers missed the first time around watching the movie. Once again, it’s hard to come to some kind of absolute conclusion since people who have been blind for a long time or the majority of their lives are better at navigating various tasks, daily lives, and some things better than people who lost their sight suddenly.

At this point, there are actually more clues pointing in the direction that Eli wasn’t blind from the start, but his eyesight did get worse as the movie progressed, ultimately revealing his clouded eyes. So, let’s analyze them.


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Eli was able to tell the day or night. This either means that he was partially blind or, at that point, his eyesight was still relatively good. Any blind person would have major difficulties discerning the time of the day without any equipment or assistance from other people. Eli was different since he exactly knew when to take a break from his journey to find a camping place in order to get some rest. Either he was told by the voice in his head when to stop and when to continue, or he was just merely doing what a normal-sighted person would do. 

In the Book of Eli is He blind 04

He was able to look straight at a mouse in the first house he stayed in. He also rummaged through his bag while shifting his head in the process of trying to search for what he needed. He woke up the next day as the sunlight shone on his face and looked out the window to assess the current situation of the surrounding area. These actions clearly show that he did not totally lose his vision.

Eli expertly knew his way around unfamiliar places. Not to mention the scene when Solara and he have wandered through an old couple’s house who asked them to have some tea. Soon after entering the residence of the old people, he already knew that they were cannibals due to the uncontrollable shaking of their hands, which was a noticeable effect when consuming human flesh. Eli and Solara also noticed the massive grave in the backyard of the house, which convinced them to plan for an immediate escape.

Eli was also undeniably skilled in handling weapons such as machete, bow, and arrow. He can also take down several enemies using his combat skills and physical strength. In one scene where he talks with Solara’s blind mother, Claudia, he looks at her face the way normal-sighted people do.

The arguments for Eli being blind

Now that we’ve covered that Eli did seem like he sees normally, there are some scenes in the movie that point in the direction of him being completely blind. First, he relied on his other senses in large part to navigate his way around the world.

He often relied on sounds to know in which direction to shoot, and he had to rely on his touch to know, for example, whether the lighter was on and what were the objects in front of him by directly touching them. Eli avoided making direct eye contact with people, and he seemed to miss the fact that Solara came to seduce him, or he simply didn’t get her implications when she came into his room.

In the Book of Eli is He blind 05

He is also able to read Braille, although this isn’t much of an argument. I mean, it is unlikely that a normal-sighted person would just go on and learn Braille, but it’s possible nothing would stop him. There’s also that shot that shows Eli’s clouded eyes. A lot of eye diseases that result in either partial or total blindness manifest in such as way, and it’s also something that can happen progressively over a span of several years or months.


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How did Eli lose his eyesight?

Eli either lost his eyesight very early in his life, or something happened during the apocalypse that caused his eyesight to get progressively worse – which is the more likely scenario.

There are hints thrown throughout the movie that imply the light hurts his eyes, which is one of the main symptoms of somebody suffering from a condition that affects eyes and eyesight.

The book of eli clouded eyes

But once again, everybody in the movie wears sunglasses, due to the harmful effects of the glare in a post-apocalyptic world. It was possible to outright show whether he was blind or not but the movie left it on an uncertain note for a good reason.

Once again I need to go back to the “clouded” eyes argument, at the beginning of the movie his eyes seemed fine, and then near the end, they are clearly damaged.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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