Sexuality In Wiseblood

This essay Sexuality In Wiseblood has a total of 1179 words and 6 pages.

Sexuality In Wiseblood

That Heinous Beast: Sexuality

In the novel Wiseblood, by Flannery O’Connor, one finds an unpleasant,

almost antagonistic view of sexuality. The author seems to regard sex as

an evil, and harps on this theme throughout the novel. Each sexual

incident which occurs in the novel is tainted with grotesquem. Different

levels of the darker side of sexuality are exposed, from perversion to

flagrant displays of nudity. It serves to give the novel a bit of a

moralistic overtone.

The "Carnival Episode" illustrated Hazel’s first experience with

sexuality. The author depicts an incident surrounded by an aura of

sinfulness. Indeed, the show’s promoter claims that it is "SINsational."

In his anxiousness to view the sideshow, Haze resorted to lying about

his age. He was that eager to see it. When he enters the tent, Haze

observes the body of an obese naked woman squirming in a casket lined

with black cloth. He leaves the scene quickly.

This first bout with sexuality was certainly a grotesque one, and one

which, perhaps, helped fortify his resolve not to experiment with sex

for years to come. Haze reacted to the incident on different levels.

Before watching the "show," he was filled with curiosity. So badly he

wanted to view this "EXclusive" show. After glancing at the body, he

first thought that it was a skinned animal. When he realized what it

was, he at once left the tent, ashamed, and perhaps frightened of the

object before his eyes.

Hazel’s reaction was not unnatural. The sight with which he was

confronted would invoke both fear and embarassment within most

ten-year-olds. Not only was the body nude, but it was inside a casket as

well. The author parallels this vulgar display of sexuality with death

itself. But Hazel reacted to more than just the sight of the object. He

at once realizes that he was not supposed to watch the naked lady, that

it was sinful to do so. He feels ashamed for having gone inside the

tent, and punishes himself. Here, it is evident that the author means to

show that Sexuality is a sinful creature.

This moral tone is reinforced by the behavior of his parents during the

episode. Whilst inside the tent, Hazel hears his father remark

appreciatively about the nude body: "Had one of themther built into

ever’ casket, be a heap ready to go sooner." After returning home,

Hazel’s mother realizes that her son has experienced something that he

should not have, and confronts him about it. Though he does not admit

what he has done, he proceeds to punish himself. It is inferred that

Hazel respects his mother’s attitude toward the matter. O’Connor seems

to propose that Hazel must do penance for what he has done, or, on a

larger scale, for witnessing vulgar displays of sexuality.

Perversion reaches its height when O’Connor introduces the reader to

Enoch Emery. During Enoch’s various dealings with women, one witnesses

vulgarity in all its forms. The events surrounding the first of these

incidents is tinged with a bit of mystery. O’Connor paints the portrait

of a Peeping Tom, an adolescent Enoch Emery watching a topless woman

sunbathe while hidden in between abelia bushes.

Strangely enough, the woman has a "long and cadaverous" face, with a

"bandage-like bathing cap." Ironically, the woman also has pointed

teeth, with "greenish-yellow hair." The woman is portrayed as a

corpse-like figure who is surprisingly similar to Hazel’s one-time

mistress, Leora Watts. Sexuality comes in the form of a corpse, an

allusion not to be missed. The narrator depicts Sexuality as being

analogous to spiritual death.

In this episode, however, one sees more than just the grotesque. Enoch

Emery introduces us to the grimmer side of sexuality, a side in which a

predator spies on an unknowing woman, and gains pleasure from it. The

meaning behind the scene is somewhat masked by the lascivious behavior

of a typical eighteen year old, but its aim is clear. Here is sexuality

at its darker side: one in which women are violated unbeknownst to them.

Enoch’s other dealings with women are also on the perverse side. He

enjoys making "suggestive remarks" towards them. The fact that they do

not respond to him results from two things. Firstly, the women do not

find him appealing in the least bit. At the "Frosty Bottle," the

waitress refers to Enoch as a "pus-marked bastard," and a "son of a

bitch." Secondly, the author points out that sexuality and perversion in

all its forms is evil.

Perhaps one of the most grotesque representations of sexuality in the

novel is found in Mrs. Leora

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Related Topics

Human sexuality, Perversion, Asexuality, Sexual intercourse

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