President Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945, has a deep emotional effect on Reuven, as it does on everyone in his community. Ironically, Roosevelt's death, sad though it is, also has a positive effect on Reuven, although whether or not he is aware of this positive effect is questionable: He matures as a character because he is forced to deal with grief. By equating Roosevelt's death with Billy's blindness, he finally is able to give a name to his feeling concerning Billy's blindness, a feeling that he has struggled to name since learning that Billy will be blind forever: senselessness. Reuven muses about the president's death, "It was senseless, as — I held my breath, feeling myself shiver with fear — as Billy's blindness was senseless. That was it. It was as senseless, as empty of meaning, as Billy's blindness." The sentence "That was it" in this quoted passage signifies Reuven's
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