Entraptment And Redemption In Wise Blood

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood brings the issue of religious faith into "clear dramatic focus" as she emphasizes the necessity for salvation through her distortion of the grotesque physical world. Developing this concept of grotesque, O'Connor develops her "vision," one of spiritual confinement, through the "large and startling" and even violent actions and journeys by which the characters are defined. Within these strange settings where absurdities become prison walls, the spiritually devoid characters of O'Connor's imagination scramble to find some kind of meaning that can afford them escape. Using the zoo, the city, and the residents of Taulkingham as a metaphor for a physical world that entraps those without spirituality, O'Connor reveals a world of insanity, lacking values and without meaning, which becomes a prison for those who can find no enlightenment.

Wise Blood's main characters illustrate this theme of entrapment through their twisted distortions and contradictions of Christianity.

These characters demonstrate their desperation through ludicrous, contorted searches for truth "” Hazel by embracing secularism and perversion as a means to prove Jesus false and Enoch by pursuing his self-devised calling as a spiritual agent. Despite all their foolish attempts, however, the characters fail to find meaning in the physical and religious world in which they are ensnared. Enoch's pathetic christening of the museum mummy as the "new jesus" earns him only disappointment. Likewise, his transformation into a gorilla fails to deliver him from his invisible prison, dehumanizing him to a lower bestial order instead of "endowing him with the peculiar physical and personal powers" that would inevitably "ensure his future success." Throughout most of the novel, Hazel remains similarly trapped "” from his berth in the train to, ironically, his car, which Hazel erroneously regards as the way to freedom. Neither Hazel's car, nor the "new jesus," Asa...