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.