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Wise Blood

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Patrick White (Patrick Victor Martindale White) Biography to David Wojahn Biography

a novel by Flannery O'Connor, published in 1952. In this novel O'Connor powerfully presents the case for (Catholic) Christianity's ultimate strength by telling a story whose events and characters seem far away from it. Hazel Motes, a young soldier, returns home after being released from the army, to found a Church Without Christ. He is animated in his intentions by his revolt from his preacher grandfather and by hostility to a quack who feigns blindness to impress followers. In fact Hazel, almost unwittingly, repeats the righteous violence and martyrdom of early believers. His ‘Church’ undergoes a schism, with a rival prophet whom Hazel kills by running him down with a car, and Hazel blinds himself with quicklime before falling sick and dying. The novel, sparely written though it is, abounds in both Christian and Darwinist (secular) images and symbols. O'Connor presents a peculiarly dark and punitive vision of religion but her insights into fanaticism are acute and rendered with great clarity and literary economy.

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