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Flannery O’Connor has been known as a writer who tends to articulate religion in her Novels. Because she was raised as a Catholic, she uses Catholicism as the center of her literature practice. In her Novel, “A Wise Blood”, the main character Hazel battles with having any faith in religion. Hazels character throughout the novel has been challenged by many other characters as well. Readers can see O’Connor’s depiction of society and religion through Hazel’s battle with life.
Hazel has a complex time in trying to differentiate faith and real human experiences. O’ Connor consistently uses imagery in her South literature to support the idea of human blindness. It seems as if O’ Connor believes, humans are blind to what is deeper than what is in their physical sight.
We see that there is a barrier in Haze Hotes eyes. In the beginning of the novel, Haze is in a train and his eyes seem to wonder around like he is looking for something.
O’ Connor writes, “Hazel Motes sat at a forward angle on the green plush train seat, looking one minute at the window as if he might want to jump out of it, and the next down the aisle at the other end of the car” (pg. 3). The entire beginning of the novel caters to what Haze seems to be searching for. Imagery is used where Hazes name is linked to an eye color. Often, Hazes has also be known to have a blurred vision which can be known as hazed.
O’ Connor embeds the longing for redemption and home. Haze mistakes the longing for Jesus for the longing for his very own home. Haze describes the story of his time in the army. After being wounded, “He had all the time he could want to study his soul in and assurance himself that it was not there…he saw that this was something he has always known. The misery that he was long for home; it had nothing to do with Jesus” (pg. 18). Through this passage, Flannery O’ Connor has embedded the sense that the longing for redemption and resisting redemption are correlated. Haze mention the “the black Bible” that “comes from home” (pg.19). He still carries that Bible around because it is important for him, it comes from home. The fact that it’s the religious book for him, his family, and his culture is not incidental to the fact that this is what reminds him of home. It is not just individuals can mistaken the longing for home for the longing for Jesus. Readers in some way can see religion and home as conflated. This tends to get to a traditional Christian notion where the believer does not feel at home in the world. They instead believe that they belong in Heaven, God’s Kingdom. The Bible is a physical manifestation of the proximity of the spiritual and the material in this world. Therefore, what makes Haze feel so close to home is, in a way, must make him feel close to the religion he is trying to reject. Later in the novel, Haze mentions that his home is in fact his car.
The car embodies the sense of a home to Haze. This moving house is an imagery to the wandering believers. In the novel, we see that other cars on the road looks just like homes. It not just Hazes, Essex. According O’ Connor, “A black pick-truck turned off a side road in front of him. On the back of it an iron bed and a chair and table were tied, and on top of them, a crate of barred-rock chickens.” (pg. 71). O’ Connor is giving readers a version of the road. Readers see a road of the unhoused, of the spiritually seeking, the wandering, and the lost. People wander in search of a coherent meaning. Haze states, “The highway was ragged with filling stations and trailer camps and roadhouses…there were patches of filed buttoned together with 666 posts…he had the feeling that everything he saw was a broken-off piece of a giant blank thing that he had forgotten had happened to him.” (pg. 70) The transcendent of the sky are seeping their way into the concerns of the material world below. As readers, we look into Hazes mind where he describes “the black sky” and its separation from the minds of the characters. (pg.33). It makes readers look for different kinds of structure. It vaults the very concrete materiality, the physicality. The moments of landscape description offer up that consistently Christian-inflected theory of the Universe.
Throughout the novel, O’ Connor presents this sense of blankness. There is a vagueness to this language that relates to Hazes case to not being converted to evil but to nothing. O’ Connor presents a sense of the world imbued with structure and meaning that looks essentially blank. The task of the novel is to fill that structure in. O’ Connor goes into depth about sight from the beginning of the novel to the end of the novel. The trope of sight is important. While Haze is in the truck, he “pounds the horn…three times” and “realized it didn’t make any sound. (pg.71). Haze does not at first, hear the horn fail to blow. Then later a truck pulls up behind him and he fails to hear the horn. These two characters are as if there is a wall between them. They can’t hear each other, They are insulated from understanding what the other is occupied with.
Haze continuously acts in blindness in his altercation with Enoch. Haze looked at him and saw he was crying…” (pg. 53). There is nothing that can pierce Haze’s imperviousness to other humans. If Haze has his eyes on something else, it is not the person in front of him. He can hear major elements of the sound scape. It seems as if Haze is so focused on the questions or redemption, that he fails to see anything else.
Haze tends to see body parts rather than the actual person. For instance, he was only able to see a “hand” resting on his shoulder and a “square red face”. Readers can notice this once again when Mrs. Watts is introduced. Haze does not see Mrs. Watts, he sees a “large white knee”. He tends to refer to these body objects as “it” often. In another instance Mrs. Hitchcock was described in an unpleasing form in pg. 12. O’ Connor seems to see nothing but theology behind it. Bodies are consistently fragmented because they represent…
Another character named Sabbath Lily is presented in the novel. While seducing each other Lily tells Haze a story in pg. 120. Lily herself is a child who has been abdondoned and unloved by her father.
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