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Dark Like Blood

"The Enduring Chill"

"What's wrong with me is way beyond you" (557).
Flannery O'Connor's "The Enduring Chill" (1958; 1965)

 

Points of Reflection

Flannery O'Connor's "The Enduring Chill" (1958; 1965), 547-72

1. what lesson does Asbury think his mother needs to learn, and why is he the best one to teach it to her?

2. does Asbury want to die?  Why, or why not?

3. why does Asbury’s mother happily envision him writing novels, plays, and poems at home (555)?  Does she value artistic production as a useful intellectual and creative exercise?

4. is Asbury right to blame his mother for his artistic impotence (554)?

5. what might O’Connor intend the bird-like water stain on his bedroom ceiling to symbolize?

6. do any of the characters blanketed by Asbury’s disdain appear to deserve such rough treatment?

7. Asbury considers himself to exist “in a state of illumination” as his death approaches (557).  Does he indeed see reality more clearly in these final days?

8. why does Mrs. Asbury proscribe the consumption of milk right out of the milking machine?

9. is Randall correct, that Asbury’s problem is a lack of correction from his mother when he was young (560)? Does her current treatment of Asbury provide support for Randall’s observation, one way or the other?

10. why does Asbury ask for a priest to visit him in his last days, and does the priest fit the bill?

11. why does Asbury have his mother remove most of the furniture prior to the priest’s visit?

12. is the priest correct in his description of Asbury as “‘a good lad at heart but very ignorant’” (567)?

13. what kind of “communion” did Asbury achieve while smoking with the two dairy workers (558), and does he successfully recreate it on his deathbed (568)?

14. what is the “purifying terror” that Asbury fears being confronted with for the rest of his days (572)?

15. what is the “last film of illusion” torn from Asbury’s eyes at the conclusion (572)?



"The Spectre of the Angelus" (1934)
Salvador Dalí



Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu