Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Wise Blood

Wise Blood is a novel by Flannery O’Connor, published in 1952. The story revolves around Hazel Motes, a World War II veteran who returns home to Tennessee to find his family home abandoned. Disillusioned and faithless after his experiences in war, Hazel decides to found an anti-religion, the Church Without Christ.

The novel explores themes of freedom, free will, life and death, and the inevitability of belief. Other themes include redemption, racism, sexism, and isolation.

The characters in Wise Blood are representative of the confusion present in the modern world, as O’Connor understood it. For example, Enoch Emery seeks a friend, Onnie Jay Holy deludes himself into selling religion, and Sabbath Lily talks about a dirt road while Hazel Motes tries to discuss spiritual issues with her. The title “Wise Blood” represents the ideas of sin and salvation that Hazel Motes rejects. For Enoch, on the other hand, blood represents the instinctual voice that drives him forward.

What I Liked

This book is my favorite O’Connor novel. It’s haunting, bizarre, incredible, accessible, weird, brilliant, and left me with vivid characters and scenes in my mind to think about and try to understand. I loved how the book gets into issues that hard really hard to put to paper (like the feeling of faith or personal connection) and can only really be communicated with literature.

What I Did Not Like

I mean – it’s full on Southern Gothic, so I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, anytime. I think you have to be in a certain mode and interest to really enjoy the book.

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