The Demonic O'Connor

The Demonic O'Connor - "The'Demonic O'Connor The Violent Bear It Away and'The Lame Shall Enter First Critic Marshall Bruce Gentry Source Flannery

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"The 'Demonic' O'Connor: The Violent Bear It Away and 'The Lame Shall Enter First.'" Critic: Marshall Bruce Gentry Source: Flannery O'Connor's Religion of the Grotesque , pp. 142-59. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1986. [(essay date 1986) In the following essay, Gentry delineates the relationship between the demonic and the religious in The Violent Bear It Away and "The Lame Shall Enter First."] Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly; for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening . --Ecclesiastes 9:10 The Violent Bear It Away , O'Connor's second novel, is at once her most consistently religious work and the work that has inspired the most comments about her so-called devilishness. As in Wise Blood , the protagonist of The Violent Bear It Away , Francis Marion Tarwater, takes a difficult path toward the religious role that an ancestor has defined for him, but several aspects of The Violent Bear It Away make Tarwater's trek more difficult than Hazel Motes's. Both Hazel and Tarwater resent their ancestors, but Tarwater's great-uncle, Old Mason Tarwater, is a more oppressive force than is Hazel's family. And unlike Hazel Motes, who is allowed consciously to forget the terms of the process by which he transforms himself, Tarwater cannot forget. He constantly has before him reminders of the choice he has to make: in the internal, devilish voice he considers his "friend"; in Rayber; and in the idiot Bishop, Tarwater's cousin, whom Old Tarwater had enjoined Tarwater to baptize. Tarwater does not practice mortification, as Hazel does, but he is still almost destroyed by his trials. In fact, to some critics, Tarwater's torture is inconsistent with a religious reading. To understand the relationship between the demonic and the religious in The Violent Bear It Away , we must pay particular attention to O'Connor's narration in this novel. And because "The Lame Shall Enter First" presents a significant variation on O'Connor's second novel, I shall consider that story here as well. The most famous critic to write that there is a devilish side to Flannery O'Connor's fiction is the novelist John Hawkes. In his article "Flannery O'Connor's Devil," Hawkes says that O'Connor uses the voice of the devil to destroy man's belief he is "rational" ; when an O'Connor character is compared to an inanimate object and/or made to seem meaningless, says Hawkes, O'Connor fully agrees with the demonic spirit of her satire. 1 As an example of O'Connor's demonic treatment of a character, Hawkes refers to her "wonderfully unsympathetic portrait" 2 of Rayber, Tarwater's uncle, a portrait I shall discuss at some length later. Some critics, following Hawkes's ideas about O'Connor's narration, make O'Connor's vision
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Fixsen during the Spring '08 term at Loyola Maryland.

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The Demonic O'Connor - "The'Demonic O'Connor The Violent Bear It Away and'The Lame Shall Enter First Critic Marshall Bruce Gentry Source Flannery

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