Goodbye.

Well, girls and guys, this is goodbye. It’s been really fun. I want to thank you personally for following along with me as I read this book. The adventure has been crazy. There’s been much confusion and many laughs, and now it’s finally coming to a close.

I just wanted to share my final thoughts of the book before I leave. As a whole, I believe that the book is definitely a timeless novel. Even though O’Connor was a twentieth-century writer, there are so many ideas and projections in her stories that are still true in today’s society. Heavy topics like racism and discrimination and a harsh world plague Wise Blood, displaying how aware O’Connor was to the world around her. The harsh events that place in the novel are notorious to O’Connor writing, and to be honest, I appreciate the realness of it all. O’Connor does not sugarcoat things, so when someone reads these horrid things, it has a more powerful effect on them.

O’Connor has an extraordinary way of getting her message across with the grotesqueness present in her writing. Many authors would not have the courage to do what O’Connor has done, which is why O’Connor is so esteemed. Her stories portray real-life situations and characters that readers are able to relate to. I particularly enjoy reading her work. Not only have I read Wise Blood, but I have also read “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” I enjoyed both and would love to read more.

Like Hazel’s spiritual battle, this blog is at its end. I hope you enjoyed and thank you again for reading. This is Colby, signing off. 🙂

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Peace Be Still.

After Hazel blinds himself at the end of chapter thirteen, he continues to live in his apartment building for the rest of chapter fourteen, spending much of his time with his landlady Mrs. Flood. She’s a lonely, self-centered lady that is interested in Hazel. Mrs. Flood “would find herself leaning forward, staring into his face as if she expected to see something she hadn’t seen before.” This expectation that is centered around sight upsets Mrs. Flood, making her feel “cheat[ed]” in a way. Mrs. Flood’s character could be seen as a parallel to Mrs. Hitchcock, the lady on the train with Hazel in chapter one.

Sabbath Lily spread the news of Hazel’s psychotic act quickly, eventually leaving after saying she “hadn’t counted on no honest-to-Jesus blind man.” Hazel, of course, is unaffected by her departure like he is to most of the outside world. Mrs. Flood takes advantage of this by making Hazel pay extra for rent, even though Hazel doesn’t care about carnal things. He only wants to be left alone.

Although it is very obvious that Mrs. Flood is the one cheating Hazel, she has a strong conviction that somehow Hazel is hiding something from her, so she attempts to pry into his past but is only met with silence. She forms an obsession with Hazel in an attempt to discover what he knows that she doesn’t. She starts noticing similarities in each other, how they both don’t have families and how they are both lonely, and this creates an attachment from Mrs. Flood. She sees Hazel as her partner in the world, but Hazel doesn’t feel this way. He very much feels isolated and detached from the world.

Hazel’s life has now taken a turned from his old one. Much like Enoch’s “rebirth,” Hazel’s blinding can be seen as a kind of significance of a new life as well. Hazel no longer preaches his ideas to people in the streets. He no longer shares his ideas among others. He is now quiet, reserved, and to himself. He has accepted his fate and is now deep in his spirituality.

Mrs. Flood offers Hazel some suggestion to keep him in touch with the world, but, as always, Hazel ignores them. This shows Mrs. Flood curiosity towards Hazel’s spiritual, monk-like state while also providing some comedy for the time being.

Speaking of comedy, O’Connor introduces more of it when Mrs. Flood attempts to seduce Hazel in order to marry him. Mrs. Flood wants to marry Hazel mainly because of his money, and who could blame her? Hazel literally throws his extra money in the trash. But aside from that, Mrs. Flood decides to talk about what she thinks matters most to Hazel: preaching. Hazel’s response to Mrs. Flood’s question only exercises what Hazel has been feeling all along. He tells her that she is better off not believing in Jesus because she can enjoy life without having to worry about condemnation. Hazel, on the other hand, is jealous of people like this and wishes he could be like them. This fuels his self-hatred that has come from his spiritual journey.

Combined with his guilt and self-hatred, Hazel harms himself in grotesque ways. He puts rocks in his shoes and wraps his chest in barbed wire in an attempt to punish himself for running from Jesus and his destiny. These disturbing acts that we see are infamous among O’Connor’s writings.

Hazel ends up dying in the back of a police car after he was found in a ditch during one of his daily walks around the block. Mrs. Flood unknowingly talks to Hazel and tells him how sorry she is and that he can stay there as long as he likes without charge. By this time, Hazel is already dead and seems to be content with being so. His face was “stern and tranquil.” Perhaps, Hazel finally found the peace that he was looking for.

Blindness at Its Best.

Chapter thirteen of the Wise Blood is perhaps the most action-packed part of the novel. The intensity of the events that occur in this chapter is overwhelming so hold on to your wigs.

The chapter begins with the monetary benefits that Shoats and Layfield are reaping from their twisted scheme of false preaching. Their characters are easily dislikable due to the fact that they’re selfishly earning a living from preaching. We learn a little background about the fake Prophet Solace in the first opening lines of the chapter. He has consumption, a disease often associated with tuberculosis, and a wife and six children. This sad description of his life creates some kind of sympathy for him that will be exercised later in the chapter.

As Solace preaches, he never notices “a high rat-colored car parked about a half-block away and a white face inside it, watching him with the kind of intensity that means something going to happen no matter what is done to keep it from happening.” This face belongs to Hazel Motes, who has now become this animalistic character that we have seen throughout the novel. Haze is stalking his prey in the night, waiting for the right time to strike. Hazel follows Solace all the way to the outskirts of town where they turn off onto a road where “the trees were hung over with moss and the only light came like stiff antennae from the two cars.” The eerie tone is set by the description of the scenery around them and foreshadows what is to come.

Hazel ends up ramming the Essex into the back of Solace’s car, making both cars come to a halt in the middle of the road. Layfield gets out of his car and goes to Hazel’s window and says, “What you want?” multiple times, but Haze only looks at him. Then, Hazel rams into Layfield’s car again, this time knocking it into the ditch. Hazel believes his car to be a good automobile, but when he sees Layfield’s car that is almost identical to his, he wants to destroy it. Hazel can see all his faults when they are displayed through Layfield, but he is blind to his own.

Hazel accuses Solace of believing in Jesus and threatens him to take off his clothes, the clothes that resemble Hazel’s. Everything that Hazel fears about himself is present in the other Prophet, which is why Hazel is in such a rage towards this imposter. As Solace is taking off his clothes, the Essex comes out of nowhere and runs over him in his distraught state. The grotesque description we get from the scene is infamous to O’Connor’s style of writing. As Hazel watches the almost motionless body, he says, “Two things I can’t stand… a man that ain’t true and one that mocks what is. You shouldn’t ever have tampered with me if you didn’t want what you got.” Hazel has become so firm in his beliefs that he has allowed them to get the best of him. He has committed a wicked act due to his obsession with Jesus.

Hazel inner struggle can be seen as he leans in to listen to what Solace’s dying soul has to say, but at the same time, Haze tells him to shut up. Hazel hates to see this replica of himself proclaiming Jesus’ name, so he finishes the job and leaves the crime scene.

The next morning Hazel drives into town to a filling station to have his car repaired and filled up for his upcoming voyage. The “sleepy-looking white boy” at the filling station tells Hazel that the Essex is in bad condition and will not make it very far, but Hazel refutes this, saying “Listen…this car is just beginning its life. A lightning bolt couldn’t stop it!” Hazel’s denial of the state of his car reflects his denial of the truth that the only way to redemption is through Jesus. The guilt of this is eating him alive and causing his vision to become hazy.

When Haze departs on his journey, he doesn’t even make it five miles before a policeman pulls him over. Hazel blindly drives his car to the top of the embankment where the policeman rams his car off of a cliff and sends it crashing into the woods. This random act of violence finally destroys Hazel as it does his car. Hazel is now forced to accept his fate and the truth of Jesus Christ.

Hazel walks back to town. He goes to a supply store and picks up a tin bucket and a sack of quicklime. He goes back to his apartment and blinds himself. This represents Hazel’s punishment for his life of sin. In doing this, Hazel succumbs to his guilt and accepts what he feels he deserves.

Enoch’s End.

At the end of chapter eleven, we read that Hazel destroys the “new jesus” that Enoch gives to Sabbath who then gives it to him. This scene can be seen as a parody of the birth of Christ, where Mary is played by Sabbath and Hazel takes on the role of Joseph. Instead of accepting the jesus figure like Joseph accepted Jesus, Haze smashes it against the wall, showing his burning desire to rid Christ from his life. This parody helps to emphasize Haze’s denial of Christ in his life.

Chapter twelve opens with Enoch waiting with great anticipation for his reward that he is suspecting to be delivered to him for his good deed. What Enoch wants is “to become something…He wanted to be THE young man of the future…to see a line of people waiting to shake his hand.” Enoch eventually leaves his house to seek his reward and sees an ad for Gonga in the newspaper. It says that the Gonga gorilla would be “at the Victory on 57th Street.” After reading this, “a look of awakening” takes over Enoch’s face. Enoch decides that this is his reward. From gaining no redemption from Hazel, Enoch seeks it in what he wants most: human connection. The gorilla becomes Enoch’s new mission, so he sets out to retrieve it.

He finds the Gonga gorilla exactly where the newspaper ad said it would be, and for a while, Enoch sits and watches with “envy” as it shakes people’s hands. Then, he suddenly and discreetly enters the back of the Gonga gorilla’s van. The gorilla gets into the van and “cross[es] the city rapidly…going very fast.” From inside, loud “thumping noises” are being made as they drive, but these sounds are inaudible due to the motor and wheels of the vehicle. When the van slows down to go over a crossing, a “figure” (Enoch) hops out and runs off into the woods. Once in the privacy of the woods, Enoch undresses, buries his clothes in the dirt, and puts on the gorilla costume. At the end of chapter twelve, Enoch attempts to shake hands with a couple sitting on a bench near the woods, but they become scared by his appearance and run away.

Since Enoch no longer has faith in Hazel, he acquires a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in his life. His longing for human connection motivates his thoughts and actions as he becomes jealous and attacks the Gonga gorilla. The scene where Enoch murders the gorilla, the “thumping” noises insinuating this, represents the disobedience towards God that many people face. Murder is a sin, and Enoch has now fallen completely from his Christian background. His old self is buried, symbolized by him burying his clothes in the dirt, and he is a new person. This is shown throughout this chapter by Enoch no longer being called a “figure” and no longer by his name.

After chapter twelve, we no longer see Enoch for the rest of the novel. A biblical story in Genesis is often referenced when considering the premise for this. In Genesis 5:24, Enoch in the Bible disappears all of a sudden. “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” It is evident that O’Connor did this intentionally.

The End is Near.

At the beginning of chapter ten, Hazel is preaching his “truth” on top of the Essex in front of the Odeon Theater. It’s his longest sermon yet, and some of the things he says are interesting, so let’s dive in. He attempts to tell people what most Atheists struggle to understand about Christianity. Hazel says that there is nothing that no one can’t see. Since God is not visible, many people believe that He is not real, which is what Hazel is preaching. After this Hazel preaches about people’s consciences and how they are not real. And if someone thinks that they are real then they should hunt their own down and kill it. Some pretty big foreshadowing right there.

Solace Layfield pulls up with and begins to preach, and Hazel watches him a minute. Seeing an almost reflection of himself shocks Hazel. Hazel’s spiritual sickness can be seen through Solace Layfield’s cough during his sermon. This realization strikes Hazel and causes him to flee back to his room.

Back in his room, Sabbath sits in his bed waiting for his arrival. When he arrives, she tells him that she is not leaving because she has nowhere to go and nobody to go anywhere with. She doesn’t realize that Hazel is in the midst of his own crisis. In order to suppress their feelings, they end of doing the nasty. You know what I mean.

Chapter eleven opens with Enoch carrying the mummy wrapped in newspaper. He is on his way to Hazel’s to give it to him. Prior to bringing the mummy to Hazel, Enoch keeps it in the washband, acting as a “grave” for the new jesus. We see some comedy thrown in with Enoch and the broken umbrella. Enoch, all alone, struggling to open the flimsy umbrella offers some comic relief from the previous scene with Sabbath and Hazel.

Like Hazel, Enoch has been trying to find some kind of connection since he’s arrived in Taulkinham. First, he tried to befriend Hazel. That failed, so now he tries to confide in the Gonga Gorilla, but again, gets turned down. Enoch resembles a lost puppy in the town and is driven by his blood, or Fate, to deliver the new jesus to Hazel’s apartment. I was kind of wondering if Enoch was going to find Hazel and Sabbath in bed together because if so, I was going to laugh so hard, but sadly I was disappointed.

Sabbath’s new possession has become Hazel now that Asa is gone. She claims him as hers, becoming a wife-like figure to Hazel. After Enoch gives Sabbath the new jesus, he insults her by saying, “I see why he has to put theter washrag over his eyes.” In an attempt to release some of his emotions, Enoch brings forth some important ideas about Hazel’s sight. The washrag covering Hazel’s eyes represents his inability to see the truth, but it also foreshadows what is later to come.

When Sabbath presents the new jesus to Hazel, he becomes infuriated and throws it against the wall, shattering it. This act proves Hazel’s willful disobedience towards fate and breaks the previous comedy relief, creating a more serious tone for what is to happen in the next chapters.

No Questions. Only Answers.

In the beginning of chapter nine, Hazel’s relentlessness with discovering what is hidden behind Asa Hawks’ glasses exaggerates his yearning for some kind of spiritual truth. He goes through extreme lengths to find answers, and, in cases like these, I am surprised he has not been thrown in jail. Even though he tries to find answers, he is always met with more obstacles, which proves the increasing complexity of society. You can try to find answers, but more often than not, you will only be confronted with more questions. Flannery O’Connor presents this idea in moments like these throughout the novel.

O’Connor takes a jab at many modern-day Christians with Haze’s first “follower,” a sixteen-year-old boy that only wanted to go to a whorehouse with someone. She makes a statement that many so-called “Christians” have no remorse for their sin but continue to “follow” Jesus. Although this book was published in the twentieth century, O’Connor’s observations about society still exist today. We all have at least one person that we know that on Monday through Saturday act any kind of way they see fit, but on Sunday, they’re the first to release a shout of praise.  Many people claim to be Christians but have no intention of following God.

Onnie Jay Holy, aka Hoover Shoats, is a new character “innerduce[d]” in chapter nine. He poses as a witness for Hazel; however, he testifies things that do not line up with Hazel’s teachings. He’s drawing the attention to the crowd better than Hazel ever could, appealing to their sense of loneliness and doing so with his natural sweetness. Shoats promotes religion as a type of saving grace, and this angers Hazel. O’Connor, again, is meant to portray a message about today’s kind of Christianity. Many churches teach fluff Christianity, Christian teachings that intentionally avoid harsh subjects such as Hell and Sin. People have a tendency to get their feelings hurt a lot these days, so in order to compensate for this, churches only teach about Jesus’ Love and God’s Grace. So again, another false prophet has entered the novel.

Hoover Shoats finds a new prophet to show off after Hazel expresses his anger, and this new prophet just so happens to look almost exactly like Hazel, including the bright blue suit and preacher hat. Insert “Copycat” by Billie Eilish here.

Eventually, Hazel locks himself inside his car and falls asleep while people watch him through his back window as he stirs in his sleep due to his nightmares. This further proves Hazel as an outsider, but it also reminds me of the owl at the zoo looking at him.

At the end of the chapter, Hazel sneaks into Asa’s apartment at night. He lights a match near Asa’s eyes, and they open. After the match burns out, Hawks says, “‘Now you can get out.’”  Once again, Hazel is stuck without answers, keeping the novel alive and adding to the suspense of what is to happen to him.

Okay, I am Kind of Confused Again.

In chapter seven, this “large blinding white” cloud keeps being mentioned as Hazel drives through the country in the Essex to see how well it performs after being in the shop. Sabbath Lily also becomes an important part of this scene. Now, Sabbath Lily has found a liking for Hazel, but even though Hazel has a plan to seduce her in order to get closer with the false prophet, Asa, he does not pretend to reciprocate the feelings. But this does not hinder Sabbath as she continues to attempt to defile Hazel.

I have a feeling that the “blinding” cloud has something to do with him not following through with his plan. Genesis 1:6-8 tells how God created a vault between the waters called the sky. And what is in the sky? Clouds. Therefore, God created the clouds, even the one following Hazel. I believe that this large cloud following Hazel is God Himself, and this is the reason that Hazel is not attempting to seduce the child, Sabbath Lily. Subconsciously, Hazel knows there is a higher power watching over him, making his attempts to defy this logic seemingly pointless.

So as they ride along in the Essex, Sabbath Lily proposes questions that cause Hazel to question the morality of the Church Without Christ. She asks if a bastard can be saved in the Church Without Christ, which makes Hazel understand the difficulty that surrounds his beliefs. He tells her that since everyone is already clean, then anyone is accepted in his newfound church. However, Hazel knew deep down that this was not true. On page 120, O’Connor describes the feelings going on inside of Hazel, saying “He looked at her irritably, for something in his mind was already contradicting him and saying that a bastard couldn’t, that there was only one truth—that Jesus was a liar—and that her case was hopeless.” Again, Hazel’s spiritual uncertainty has been revealed once more.

Eventually, the “blinding white cloud had turned into a bird with long thin wings and was disappearing in the opposite direction.”

Chapter eight begins with much vagueness from Enoch’s point of view. Enoch’s “wise blood” has been leading him to the upcoming moment when he steals the mummy from the zoo museum to give to Hazel. Of course, this mummy is supposed to be the “new jesus” for Hazel, but I can not understand why something so strange and disturbing must serve as Hazel’s messiah. Perhaps it has something to do with Hazel’s view of Jesus from chapter one, the “wild ragged figure.”

So Enoch’s blood has been preparing him for this moment all throughout chapter eight, leading him to do some pretty odd things. The first sign that something is going to happen is that Enoch begins to save his money, which he used to buy popcorn and a movie ticket with. How these two things correlate to Hazel and the mummy are beyond me. But there is something interesting about Enoch and his blood this go ‘round. Enoch says to himself, “Whatever it is, I don’t want to it. I’m going home.” So for the first time, we see Enoch defying his calling in a way. He knows something is going to happen because his blood is telling him so, but he does not want to do it. He tells himself multiple times that he is just going to go home and forget about everything, but of course, nothing is ever that simple. His blood ends up taking him to the movies, illustrating the powerful control that his blood has over him. As someone who usually acts impulsively, we as readers can understand how difficult this internal battle inside of Enoch due to his lack of compulsion.

Enoch’s blood could be compared to God’s will seeing as most of the novel surrounds religious images. The coercion of the “wise blood” makes Enoch do all of these things that seem ridiculous, but in the end, have a purpose. In the same way that God has things planned out for us, Enoch’s blood plans things out for him.