Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

“Wise Blood”, the first full-length novel by American writer O ‘Connor, is a religious fable discussing salvation through faith. “Wise Blood” is set in The city of Taulkinham, Tennessee in the mid-20th century. The protagonist Hazel Motes tries to eradicate the influence of Jesus on him, and takes a path of spiritual disillusionment and conversion mixed with sadness and joy, which ends in failure. Hazel Motes, the protagonist, grew up in a family of village ministers and wanted to become a priest, just like his grandfather. His faith wavered during his years abroad as a soldier, and after his demobilization he tried to cast off his religious convictions. In Taulkinham, Hazel meets Hawks, a pseudo-believer who preaches-disguised as a blind man, his illegitimate daughter Lily, and an 18-year-old boy named Enoch. Hazel spoke to everyone about blasphemy as the only way to achieve truth, and publicly promoted a Protestant religion without Jesus. However, the public was indifferent to his words, and the Protestantism he preached was exploited by Hawks as a money swindler. After driving over Hawk’s fake prophet, Hazel blinded himself and fell into a gutter on a stormy night.

Sin and redemption are the most important themes in O ‘Connor’s novels. In “Wise Blood” with strong religious color, both the narrative structure of the Bible and the image of the Bible are cleverly borrowed to highlight the theme of sin and redemption. The title “Wise Blood” symbolizes original sin in the Bible, and human beings are born with sin, which is also one of the most critical kernels in the humanistic concept of the Bible. In “Wise Blood”, Hazel’s sins are realized through violence. Violence against others became a means for Hazel to rebel against God. At the same time, he blinded himself with lime, tied himself with wire, and put on shoes filled with stones. Such violence against himself became a means of self-redemption. Hazel’s physical torture meant the death of his sins, bringing him back to the faith of his childhood, and giving him grace. The two world wars completely disillusioned people’s dreams, vanity of pleasure behind the appearance of concealing the human selfish hypocrisy, empty spirit, and withered soul. These people are immersed in the mire of crime and do not know, mankind is facing an unprecedented crisis of faith. O ‘Connor wants to make those who believe that God is dead realize their own defects and sins through violence.

-Coreen C.

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