Course Guidelines

  Class Discussion   Writing Assignments  
  Path 1 Calendar   Path 2 Groups & Texts   Reference Texts

Dark Like Blood

"The River"

"'You people with trouble . . . lay it in that River of Blood, lay it in that River of Pain,
and watch it move away toward the Kingdom of Christ" (162).
Flannery O'Connor's "The River" (1955)


Points of Reflection

Flannery O'Connor's "The River" (1955), 154-71

1. what atmosphere does O'Connor establish in the story's opening lines with the use of words like "glum," "limp," "dark," and "pulled" (154)?

2. what kind of personality does O'Connor assign Mrs. Connin? Consider not only the narrator's description of her, but the evidence provided by Mrs. Connin's own actions, words, and family.

3. notice both the content and timing of O'Connor's similes--are both elements important, or extraneous?

4. O'Connor employs the image of a skeleton a few times to describe whom?

5. is the sun more than a passive element in this tale's backdrop?

6. do the preacher's words about the river's symbolic function predict the role that the river actually plays in Harry's/Bevel's life at the end of the story?

7. at what points does "for Christ's sake" appear, and what functions does the phrase serve?

8. why might the narrator herself refer to Harry as "Bevel" instead of by his correct name?

9. what motivates Harry's/Bevel's consistent stealing and lying?

10. is Harry old enough, experienced enough, and reflective enough to be labeled either foolish or wise?

11. what narrative function is served by the apparently peripheral character Mr. Paradise?

12. with whose perspective does the tale end?

Mannequin (1926-27)
"Untitled (Portrait of the Artist's Mother") (1920)
Salvador Dalí

Dr. Paul Marchbanks