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An Example of Southern Literature and Imagery: Flannery O’Connor’s "Wise Blood"

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There are many widely recognized characteristics that are apart of Southern literature that are present in Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood. Among the most familiar characteristics of Southern literature is a writing style that is based upon imagery. Another common characteristic which can be drawn from Southern literature is the struggle to understand the difference between what is real human experience as opposed to what is believed to be real, as well as the human/God relationship. Flannery O’Connor’s use of consistent imagery reinforces one of the major themes of Wise Blood – that man seems to only scratch the surface of things, and not see deeper into them. The novel begins as Hazel Motes, the novels key character, is aboard…show more content…
This focus on eyes alerts the reader to pay close attention not only to Hazel’s eyes and what he sees, but also what others may be seeing. Even Hazel’s name is linked to the imagery of eyes, as hazel is both a common eye color and Hazel’s vision is often “hazy” or stuck in a “haze”.
Flannery O’Connor brilliantly puts together Wise Blood so that throughout the novel’s context, despite trying to repeatedly escape from faith, Hazel Motes cannot do so. Not only does O’Connor use this as a main theme in the novel, but she also uses evangelism as a way to debunk agnosticism and atheism. Despite his many efforts to renounce Christ, Hazel Motes remains a Christian evangelist whose every move is seemingly controlled by his faith. Hazel’s appearance even resembles that of a preacher, prompting questions to be asked towards him, despite the fact that he despises the thought of being a preacher. Hazel even states that “Jesus Christ is a trick on n****rs.”
Perhaps the main reason Hazel wanted to negate Christ so badly was so that he would be able to live his life released from the burden which faith in Christ’s redemption stipulated of him. Even as a child Hazel had to carry the burden of Christ’s redemption. His mother, who had a “cross-shaped face” and always wore black, one time asked him three times, “what you seen?” (63) before hitting him across the legs with a stick and telling him, “Jesus died to redeem you” (63). It is then that Hazel “forgot the guilt of the
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