The Blind Side Summary

Michael Lewis

The Blind Side

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The Blind Side Summary

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The Blind Side is a heartwarming story about second chances and overcoming obstacles. Written by Michael Lewis, the novel was also made into a hit film starring Sandra Bullock. The Blind Side shows how teenager Michael Oher goes from being nearly invisible to an individual of esteem and import by way of football. As a left tackle, Michael’s role is to protect the quarterback’s “blind side,” meaning he has one of the most important positions on the field. Though this importance is nearly central to the narrative, and though the narrative itself might appear to focus on Michael’s rocky rise as a football prodigy, Lewis’s narrative also focuses on social issues, such as class, race, education, and belonging, making Michael’s issues symbolic of many of the larger social issues in American society.

When the narrative begins, the reader is introduced to Michael Oher’s troubling background. Michael is a young African-American teenager living in one of the poorest areas in the United States. A victim of poverty, he has been shuffled in an out of various foster homes and housing projects. Despite these apparent setbacks, however, Michael also has a series of “gifts” that soon propel him into better circumstances: though a teenager, he is six-feet-five inches and weighs 350 pounds. His strength and agility, coupled with his size, make him the ideal candidate for a career in football.

Michael is taken in by a man named Big Tony, and is eventually enrolled in a prestigious, predominately white Christian school in East Memphis despite his lackluster performance in previous schools. Though it even seems like Michael is performing at a lower grade level, Big Tony points to the teenager’s athletic abilities, explaining that Michael only needs incentive to perform better and acclimate to school. Indeed, Michael does begin to perform better, but after a time, his environment still appears to hinder him from truly exceling.

At this point in the narrative, a rich white family takes Michael under their wing. After spending time with the family in this new nurturing environment, Michael begins demonstrating true potential. It is during this time that Michael comes to be considered one of the most gifted left tackles in the country even though he has not yet played in a national league. Given his traits, however, many college coaches begin to take interest in Michael. In due time, he is expected by many to be a high draft pick when he graduates in 2009 from the University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss.

As a critique on the nature versus nurture argument, where public and private life are pitted against each other to explain an individual’s chances for survival, The Blind Side works on a variety of social levels. By using Michael’s big break with football and the people who take him in, Lewis shows how removing Michael from his private “hells” of poverty, poor education and a practically nonexistent family structure helped him move forward. Michael was placed in an upper-class environment, given the right connections and an adopted family life, thus allowing him to succeed.

Michael’s success, however, is troubling for some. His treatment begs several questions of the reader. For one, would Michael have received the same opportunities in life if he did not display such athleticism? Expanding the critique further, should every child who displays athleticism like Michael receive the same treatment, with the same opportunities? Another troubling debate is seen with many student athletes: should students with lackluster academic records be given breaks because of their athleticism and their future potential as an athlete? Is this considered special treatment? If so, who is to blame and where does the abuse of the academic system start and stop?

Lewis’s novel provides a case study of an underprivileged African-American male given access and success due to unique abilities. It is a story of triumph and overcoming obstacles, a view into the life of an individual who seemingly comes into his own with proper guidance. The merits and morality of this guidance is up for debate, but the results of the guidance are strikingly clear: Never judge a book by its cover.