A Contrast in Absurdity















































Communication II


07 December 1999




A Contrast In Absurdity


Flannery O\'Connor\'s Wise Blood explores a grotesque world of surrealistic imagery, ridiculous characters, bleak settings, and sinful religion. Throughout the book, two primary characters struggle for the truth and ultimately find it. Both characters explore themselves inwardly, but quite differently, Hazel Motes, the main character of the story, seeks the truth through profane sin, and Enoch Emery, a developed minor character, seeks the truth through his instinct-his "wise blood." His "wise blood," which he believed he inherited from his father, drove him to do unnatural things, a harsh contrast to Haze, who did unnatural things out of logic. Hazel loses himself, empties himself in his struggle with, and searches for transcendence. His salvation if to be achieved at all is to be achieved through sin.


Hazel Motes has the temperament of a martyr; he spends most of the book trying to get God to go away. As a child he\'s convinced that "the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin" (O\'Connor 11). When that doesn\'t work, and when he returns from the Army determined to convert from evil to nothing, he still cannot go anywhere without being mistaken for a preacher. (The hat and glare blue suit did not help.) No matter what Hazel does, he feels Jesus is all around him and can not escape his thoughts.


After serving four years, Hazel Motes has just been discharged from the Army and in route to Taulkinham on a train. Motes has just left his hometown of Eastward, Tennessee; he went there first and found it totally deserted. He is moving on now looking for a place to settle with his new life. Within the first chapter of Wise Blood


three things are evident: he has a fear of death (more the actually entombing then actual death), his negative attitude towards religion and salvation, and the subject of "home" (where home is). Hazel\'s fear of death is made evident through his dreams. On the train he is placed in a berth, which reminds him of a coffin he saw at his fathers funeral. He dreams that his father is in the coffin and wants to refuse death by not allowing it to close. When the coffin does close his father is not able to do anything but lie there like a corpse. The fear and question of salvation is obvious, his grandfather was a preacher and he was destined to be one since a young age. The things he feared all were from sermons his grandfather preach. Haze has a fear of the unknown, he has heard of Jesus but never seen him. He wants the security of what is recognized and expected. With all of this taken into account, "he has no home in the world, and he is fiercely committed to the belief that he has no soul" (McFarland 75).


Once settling in Taulkinham Motes bought a car, an Essex; he used this car as his home, a church, and an escape to another town. He starts his own church he called "The Church of Christ Without Christ," he preached all his sermons on the street at the hood of his car. He draws the attention of two devoted individuals, Sabbath Lily Hawks a sexually devoted young girl and a religious devoted Enoch Emery. Enoch "like Haze he is a seeker; but, first and last, he is seeking friends" (Orvell 87). "While Hazel\'s attention is throughout directed to "higher" things than man and his relation with men, Enoch\'s concern is with man in his lowest relations-with animals. Enoch is portrayed as a zookeeper, and one who, feeling greater kinship with his charges than with visitors to the zoo, is, at best, precisely his brothers\' keeper. Yet, like Cain and Abel, Enoch and the animals seem to entertain mutually hostile and rival attitudes" (Orvell 88). Sabbath Lily Hawks is the daughter of Asa Hawks, a con man who leads people to believe he blinded himself because of his faith in Jesus.


When Enoch takes a mummy to Hazel wanting it to be his new Jesus, Sabbath answerers the door and is told to make sure Hazel receives it. Lilly Hawks carries it as a