FLANNERY O’CONNOR’S WISE BLOOD: A RECAPITULATION OF THE STORY OF ST. PAUL OF NEW TESTAMENT

Sr. Manju Jacob

Abstract


Flannery O’Connor’s reputation as a writer first flowered because of her remarkable short stories and novels. The vision of reality which underlies her works seems strangely out of harmony with our materialistic essentially no-religious society. Although her stories are Southern to the core, she was never actively part of any Southern literary movement and for the most part of her fiction does not reflect social issues, particularly the social problems, which beset the South during her lifetime. Despite her Catholic Faith, the characters of the bulk of her fiction are Protestant Fundamentalists or Fanatics. Miss O’Connor’s sympathies were clearly aligned the mistaken truth-seekers, the raging, and the irrational, even sinful prophets, some of whom seem to have wandered into the modern world from the pages of the Old Testament. They at least have some awareness of reality, some cognizance of the Divine Plan, she contended. They may reject or prevent the world but they cannot escape it. On the other hand Miss O’Connor’s utmost scorn was showered upon the secularities bogged in their material world and unable or unwilling to perceive the grand design of existence, the plan of Redemption. Hazel Motes presents a figure reminiscent of Milton’s Satan, a Christ of Evil. Consumed by evils as he is, Hazel like Satan cannot ignore nor even long be away from Christ. His suffering is the realization of loss, of man’s fall. So darkened is his spirit by the chaos of his soul that grace cannot penetrate it, and he plunges deeper into darkness. O’Connor’s work is littered with characters like Hazel Motes, who starts a heretical Church and commits murder before his conversion. Throughout the Bible, readers encounter figures such as Paul, who began sinning his way to Jesus as a persecutor of the early Christian Church before his conversion at Damascus, or Moses, who murders an Egyptian and flees to Midian before being called by God to free the Israelites. Throughout O’Connor’s works there are significant biblical allusions which have been overlooked. O’Connor’s unique approach, that is her attempt to engage her biblical source material in a unique way in order to reach a mass audience, grows out of her frustration over her parish’s tendency to avoid the intellectual and spiritual problems confronting Catholicism in the twentieth century since she was opposed to practiced form of worship that enabled people to recite ‘readymade’ prayers instead of searching their own souls; instead O’Connor frequently encouraged growing interest in Biblical studies. The novel Wise Blood recapitulates the story of St. Paul of the New Testament. This study compares Hazel Motes with the Biblical parallel St. Paul.

Keywords


Church Without Christ, Fall, Redemption, Judgement, Evangelist, Biblical Allusions.

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References


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