In the Movie "The Book of Eli" we discover at the end that the Bible Eli has been carrying the entire movie is written in Braille.

Does this imply that he is blind (and has been living completely "by faith" his entire life) or is the punchline of the movie that he is the simply the last living man on Earth who can read Braille?

  • 12
    He is blind. It's not totally obvious for most of the film.
    – user11982
    Jan 21, 2013 at 14:44
  • 2
    @SSumner Not the last human, but perhaps the last man.
    – Xantec
    Jan 21, 2013 at 15:59
  • 19
    The spoiler tags in the question are a little pointless, given the title.
    – Burhan Ali
    Jan 21, 2013 at 18:59
  • 2
    I'm glad you asked this. I just watched this movie the other night and, truthfully, if I hadn't gone to look up the synopsis of the movie online I don't know that I would have figured out that Eli was blind. I think I would have just assumed that since he was literate he was also able to read Braille (for some reason...).
    – Meg Coates
    Jan 21, 2013 at 20:51
  • 2
    He just really, really liked his sunglasses.
    – BBlake
    Jan 22, 2013 at 13:06

8 Answers 8


He is blind, although it is not always obvious. This was particularly the case for me since I saw this movie on a plane, which had been edited (the movie, not the plane).

Some of the subtle clues to demonstrate he is blind:

  • When he flicks the lighter open and flicks it, he moves his hand over the flame to prove to him it works because he's blind.
  • He kept clicking the iPod even though it said battery low. If he could see, he'd realize the battery was low. Only after clicking like crazy did he realize it was low.
  • He kicked the bottom stair before walking up the steps to the old folks house.
  • He didn't see the no trespassing sign because he was blind.
  • At the beginning of the movie, he shoots a hairless cat only when he hears it move.
  • It is only after Eli is fired upon from the guy on the roof that Eli takes cover and fires back. And each time someone fires on him, Eli turns in that direction and returns fire. Eli accidentally shoots Carnegie in trying to shoot the guy running in Carnegie’s direction.
  • When Solara first comes to seduce Eli she is obviously dressed for solicitation and she says "don't worry you don't have to pay." Eli replies "pay for what," since he can't see all the visual clues that Solara is giving him.
  • Just before he cooks the cat, Eli searches the house he's in. While he does so, he touches the contents of a shelf in order to glean what its contents are.
  • 26
    What does an edited plane look like?
    – Xantec
    Jan 21, 2013 at 15:45
  • 16
    @Xantec The wings are shorter. Jan 21, 2013 at 15:57
  • 3
    Plus, more leg room.
    – Zoot
    Jan 21, 2013 at 18:00
  • 11
    When you watch the movie for the second time, knowing that he is blind, a lot of these things you mentioned, plus a lot of other small things, become glaringly obvious (IMO).
    – NominSim
    Jan 22, 2013 at 2:47
  • 2
    There is a scene where he looks directly at the sun before putting his sunglasses on. That was when I realised what was going on. Nov 18, 2013 at 20:56

In the Bible, Eli grew gradually more blind, from partial sight up to the stage of 'his eyes were set so he could not see'. I'm not sure that would happen over the brief duration of the film, but maybe he wasn't fully blind in the film, but had learnt brail in 'the world before' so as to better be able to read.

I agree all the things above could prove he had bad eyesight or possibly even be blind, but there are parts in the film that make me think he could see at least slightly, like when the motorcycle gang attacked the two travellers, granted he could hear them, but he looked around the rubble to better see, and then pinpointed the gangleader in the bar in town.

  • He hid pretty good for a blind fella. Mar 4, 2014 at 19:32
  • 1
    @GeneralDecline it's the whole 'if i cant see them they cant see me' routine again Jul 21, 2016 at 15:12

From a technical point of view. it's possible to have enough sight to shoot at moving targets as shadows on a bright background but still not be able to read at all. Using sound to identify targets versus friendlies helps. Eli knows when there are people there, but waits for them to declare their intentions. Once that is established, he simply aims at the body mass. Targets at a gun range don't need faces or hair styles to get shot in the chest.

If you just knew the order of the books in the bible, you could learn braille by just learning the letters of the names of the books. I bet you could get most of the braille alphabet from just the names of the books, which are on every page of each book if you already know the names and order of books. Thirty years is a long time. Helen Keller was reading braille at a younger age than that and she was born blind.


He is not totally blind, for the reason that when they go back in the old cannibal couple's house and ask for weapons Eli looks at the window to check the surroundings. This takes place around minute 77.


He was partially blind, not blind. Due to the 'flash'. There are hints that he had trouble seeing, the use of the glasses throughout shows the light hurt his eyes. But if you watch again with the sole purpose to see if he is completely blind, the movie fails to show this.

  • 4
    "Blind" normally doesn't mean "completely blind."
    – wyvern
    Dec 9, 2015 at 17:57

When he was leaving the house at the beginning, after eating the cat and feeding the mouse, we see his eyes. Then at the end his eyes are obviously white and blind.

  • 1
    It could also be that his mind was focused in recollection and that his eyes were glazed over with tears, not cataracts. Easier when your vision is not optimal, yes, but not necessarily implying that be the condition. Anyways, this talks more about the appearance of his eyes, not whether he could use them to see. Aug 2, 2017 at 13:34

Eli is blind throughout the whole movie. How he became blind is up for debate. He is not the last living blind person; Solara's mother tells him that she was born blind. He asks her whether it happened after or during the war, which may give the reason for his blindness. He walks for thirty years because that's how long it takes for him to remember the entire Bible and to understand its message, which he tells Solara toward the end.

If you notice, throughout the movie, he uses his senses a lot except for the sense of sight. Everyone wears glasses because of the glare, not just him. He tells Solara that the message is to treat others better than yourself. This message rings loud and true at the end when the villain tries to get Solara's mother to read the book. She tells him that she's forgotten how, which is not true. He treated her so badly, why should she do this for him?


Eli was blind before the war and after finding the bible and hearing God's voice he regained his sight until his task was completed (finding a safe place for the bible) This is why he did things a blind man would do and could read braille and also why is eyes were normal at the start of the film and clouded and the end. God gave him guidance and protection and the gift of sight.

  • 4
    Is this just your personal opinion?
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2015 at 18:26

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