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Dark Like Blood

Long Night's Journey Into Day

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts
in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world" (91).
C. S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain (1940)

 

Points of Reflection

The Bible: Matthew 16:24-26

1. what graphic imagery does v. 24 evoke, and why apply this to the life of the believer?

2. can you make sense of the paradoox in v. 25?

3. what does Jesus imply is humanity's default approach to life, one he attempts to correct with pointed rhetorical questions in v. 26?


Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People" (1955), 263-84

1. this tale opens with a sketch of Mrs. Freeman that emphasizes her intractability (263). Are she and Mrs. Hopewell at all similar, or quite opposite?

2. what assumption underlies Mrs. Hopewell’s idealistic talk about the Freemans and other “good country people” (264-65)?

3. what do Mrs. Hopewell’s thoughts about her daughter reveal about her own values (266-69)?

4. why did Joy change her name to “Hulga,” and why is she uncomfortable when Mrs. Freeman uses it (266-67)?

5. why might O’Connor include those cryptic moments when Hulga angrily quotes French philosopher and priest Nicolas Malebranche (268) and when her mother looks at and is befuddled by a passage about science in one of Hulga's philosophy books (268-69)? What does each enigma suggest about Hulga's interests and values?

6. why does Hulga comically insert herself into her mom's conversation with Mrs. Freeman (273 bot, 274 mid)?

7. what strategies does the Bible salesman effectively employ in his dealings with Mrs. Hopewell (269-72), then later with Hulga (275-81)?

8. Hulga seems shame as an meaningless artifact, a product of a less-evolved, past age of human development. What does she hope to do with Manley Pointer's shame (276), and what has she presumably done with her own (281)?

9. how does Hulga respond to Manley Pointer's suggestion that she must be brave to live with such an obvious disability, presumably trusting in God to provide for her (277)?

10. how experienced is Hulga, romantically speaking, and how does her response to intimate physical contact slowly change (278-82)?

11. why does Hulga’s face turn red the first time the Bible salesman says he wants to see where her wooden leg “‘joins on’” (277), and then lose color the second time he makes this request (280-81)? Is either reaction ironic, given her character?

12. why might Mr. Pointer ask for an affirmation of affection with such determination (280)?

13. what words from Manley deliriously flip everything on its head for Hulga (281), and which of his subsequent actions violently reshape her assumptions yet again (282-83)?

14. why might "Manley" collect . . . what he collects?

15. does the story as a whole support Hulga’s assumption that she has “true genius,” and the Bible salesman only an “inferior mind” (276 bot)?

16. what does our last glimpse of Hulga suggest about her current, internal state of being

17. does Hulga's wooden leg serve a symbolic function, or is it merely a practical prosthesis?


The Vertebrated Cavern
"Figure from the Back" (1925)
gouache on cardboard
Salvador Dalí



Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu