"He felt that he should have a woman, not for the sake of the
pleasure in her, but to prove that he didn't believe in sin
since he practiced what was called it" (62).
Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (1952)
Points of Reflection
The Bible: Luke 15:11-32
1. how does it shape your understanding of the younger son's request (v.12) to learn that this tale is told at a time when a child's inheritance was normally bequeathed upon the parent's death?
2. under what conditions does the younger son envision his return to his father, having now spent all the money he was given (v.17-19)?
3. is the father's extravagant response to his lost son's return irrational? How does this moment (v.20-24) compare with the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14)?
4. is the older son's response to the party being thrown for his brother just (v.25-30)?
5. what kind of love is being implicitly recommended by this parable?
Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (1952), chps 4-7
1. why does Haze purchase the car he does, despite his awareness of its poor condition (38-39)?
2. recall O’Connor’s description of Hazel’s youthful thoughts about Jesus (11-12), and his confrontation with his mother following his first experience at a carnival peep show (35-36). Did the young Haze absorb Christian notions about redemption along with convictions concerning guilt?
3. why might O’Connor describe Mrs. Watt as “so well-adjusted that she didn't have to think any more," and then turn around and describe Haze, driving off in his used car, as “going forward, thinking nothing and sweating” (34, 41, emphases added)?
4. why is Haze intent on sinning while in Taulkinham?
5. what narrative functions do physical disabilities serve in Flannery O’Connor’s tale?
6. why did the young Haze temporarily disable himself by placing rocks in his shoes (36)?
7. why did Asa Hawks not open his eyes when lime was streaking down his face (65)?
8. does O’Connor share Haze’s prejudice (72) towards African Americans and the disabled?
9. what do you make of Sabbath Hawk’s odd tales/parables concerning sin (28, 69)? Are these intended to be merely shocking and comic? Is there any moral truth locked away inside them?
10. what words do O’Connor’s characters use most often when cursing? Why might this be?
11. how pivotal are characters’ acts of looking, gazing, and staring within this story’s structure?
12. does O’Connor intend to make Hazel’s attraction to Mrs. Leora Watts easily justifiable (17-18)? Why does Hazel eventually leave her (62)?
13. how pivotal are characters’ acts of looking, gazing, and staring within this story’s structure?
14. what particular elements of Christian thought does Haze Motes appear to reject?
Soft Self-Portrait with Fried Bacon (1941)
oil on canvas
Dr. Paul Marchbanks