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ClaudiaLandowne
Herzog
APLiterature
January12,2015
Theeditingprocessforthispaperwasfamiliarinsomewaysandverydifficultinothers.
Ononehand,thecriticismsIreceivedwerenottoodifferentfromthosethathadbeenmadeon
previouspapersIhadwritten.MostoftheeditsImadehadtodowithclarifyingandextending
mythinkinginordertomaketheideasofthepaperflowbetterandbemoreunderstandableto
thereader.Thosefixesarentquick,butIwasdefinitelyfamiliarwithhowtomakethemandfelt
nodiscomfortatdoingso.
However,aftermakingallthosechanges,Ifoundmyselfwitha10pagepaper,which
wasachallengeIwaslessfamiliarwith.Surprisingly,althoughIamwordy,Idontusuallyhave
troublewithpagelimits,soImnotthemostpracticedatcuttingdownmywork.EvennowIfeel
asthoughtheflowofmypapermayhavesuffered,atparts,fortheprocess.Ishortenedthepaper
mainlybycuttingdowntransitionalphrasesandlongwindedtopicsentenceswithideasthatI
feltcameuplateron.
Overall,althoughthewritingandeditingprocessmayhavebeentoughattimes,Iam
proudtohavewrittenapaperlikethis.


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Noahs57Chevy:WiseBloodsCondemnationofAnimalisticConsumerisminReligion
Itseemsunlikelythatanauthorwouldbeabletosooverusegenreconventionsthather
workactuallycomesfullcircle,transcendingtriteabsurditytobecomearelevantsocialcritique.
FlanneryOConnorsWiseBlood,provesthatsuchafeatcanbeaccomplished.Saturatedwith
eccentric,drawlingpreachersandgrotesque,animalisticimagery,thenovelpushesSouthern
Gothictoitslimits.OConnorsuseofgenreconventiongoessofar,thatherultimateconclusion
condemnsperhapsthemostubiquitousinstitutionintheAmericanSouth:theProtestantChurch.
InWiseBlood,HazelandEnochactasfoilstooneanothertheircontrastingfeelingstowards
bothanimalsandconsumeristattitudesinreligionconveythemessagethatSouthernProtestant
societyhasbeencorruptedbycapitalismandnowplacestoomuchemphasisonmaterial
happiness.Inthisfashion,OConnorimpliesthatonewhoistrulyfaithfulinAmericashould
actuallyeschewtheProtestantChurchandinsteadpursueanoncorporealfaiththatemphasizes
metaphysicalhappinessattainedonlythroughworship,suchas,perhaps,herownCatholicism.
EnochsjealousyofanimalsillustrateshowSouthernershavelosttruespirituality.Azoo
worker,Enochisoftensurroundedbyanimals.Tohim,theirenclosuresseemspaciousandtheir
regularfeedingsaswankyconvenience.Hewatchesthemeveryday,fullofaweandhate
becausetheircages[are]electricallyheatedinthewinterandairconditionedinthesummerand
there[are]sixmenhiredtowaiton...andfeedthem(OConnor78).Enochenviestheearthy
indulgencestheanimalspartakein,liketheheatandfoodthatareprovidedtothemwithouttheir
working.Hisviewoftheanimalsandtheirsupposedlyluxuriouslivesrevealshisdesirefora
lifeofanimaleaseandsatisfaction(Allen260).Enochsfocusisentirelyonimmediatewants
ratherthaneternalreward.ThismindsetassociateshimwithWisebloodsvariouscorrupt
preachers,likeAsaHawks,whopanhandlestosupposedcongregantsbecausetheywouldrather


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have[him]begthanpreach,solicitingdonationsnotinreturnforclosenesstoGod,butarespite
fromhisroadsidesermons(OConnor36).Also,Asaisnotactuallyblind,furtherfalsifyinghis
characterandsubvertingtheSoutherntropeoftheblindpreacher.AlthoughEnochisnotas
explicitlyreligiousasAsa,hestillbuysintothematerialisticcultureoftheProtestantSouth,
jockeyingfortheattentionoftheroadsidehousewaressalesmanAsacompeteswith,exclaiming
Iwantme[apeeler](39).Enochisanactiveandeagerparticipantinareligiousculturewhere
fakeblindmenandsalespeoplearethetruepreachersheexemplifiesthewillinglymaterialistic
Southerncongregationperfectly.Becausehedesirestheinstantgratificationandeasylivingthat
themundane,materialisticrepresentationofProtestantreligionthatOConnorpresentsoffers,he
isanexampleofthelossoftrue,deeperdevoutnessthatSouthernsocietylacks.
Enochsenvyofanimalsalsoextendstotheireasycompanionshipwithoneanother.
Enochfeelsjealouswhenheseestwoblackbears,sittingintheircagefacingeachotherlike
twomatronshavingtea,theirfacespoliteandselfabsorbed(OConnor89).Heenviestheir
easycompanionshipandfreedomtobenarcissistic,payingattentiononlytotheirown
conversation.ThefilmadaptationofWiseBloodunderscoresthiswithitsdepictionofEnochs
wiseblood,aninnervoicethatseemsinitiallytobethewordofGodbutisreallyjustEnochs
subconsciousdesireforfriendship.WithouttheinnermonologueprovidedbyOConnorsthird
personomniscientnarration,Enochswiseblooddrivensearchcanbeseparatedfromitsliterary
presentationasareligiousquestandisrevealedtobeayearningforcompanionship.WhenHazel
preaches,Enochyellsoutthathecanget[thenewjesusHazelschurchrequires]andis
subsequentlyshunnedbyhim(Huston,1979).ThisrevealsEnochslongingforfriendship,an
immediate,animalisticwant.WhenHazelvisitsEnochatthezoo,EnochremarksWellIllbea


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dog(OConnor79).Thisisacommonsaying,butgivenOConnorsuseofanimalistic
imagery,itrehashesWiseBloodsmotifofhumansactinglikeanimals,carryinganassociation
withearthlygratification.ThislinealsoforeshadowsthemoreliteraltransformationEnochwill
undergo.Eventually,theinnervoicenowseemingmorelikeaninnerdelusionthatisEnochs
wisebloodleadshimtodonagorillasuitand[bury]hisformerself(OConnor198)because
he[wants]toshakehandswithotherpeople,becausehewantscompanionship(Huston).In
thisscene,Enochforgoeshishumanity,transformsintoabeast,andisthereafterreferredtoasan
it.Hebecomesthedoghiswiseblood,whichatonepointseemedthevoiceofGod,is
revealedtobeEnochsownwarpeddesireforcompanionship.LikeAsaandthesalesman,Enoch
isafalseprophet,asymptomofadiseasedProtestantfaith.ThefactthatEnochisnotseenafter
histransformationsuggeststhatheisrevoltinginbothsensesoftheword:disgusting,andin
rebellionagainsthisproperplaceinGodscreation(Allen259).Hisapelikeappearance
precludeshimfromattainingnotonlycompanionship,butalsotheeternalloveofGod,as
animalsdonotthinkofdivinerewards.AfterEnochgiveshimselfovertohisanimalisticsidein
hispursuitoffriendship,heislosttoGodandlosesanychanceatspiritualredemption.
OConnorsanimalisticimageryalsoextendstoHazelsexperience.Sheusesmetaphor
tocharacterizethecitypeopleasanimalistic.Phraseslike,foxshapedfaceandlookedlikea
friendlyhounddogdescribeEnoch,expressionofagrinningmandrillcharacterizes
panhandlingAsa,andnastydoglookrefererstoamanonthestreet(OConnor34,40,35,43).
Thesephrasesimplyadegreeofbasestupidity.OConnorsuseofanimalisticlanguageisthe
casualmanifestationoftheextremepointshemakesthroughEnochstransformation:
Southernersareanimalistic,subscribingtoworldlydesires.Conversely,Hazelisdescribedas


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brashlyhuman.Awomanhesitsnexttoonatrainsees[t]heoutlineof[his]skullunderhis
skin...plainandinsistentandmustlookaway(OConnor4).TheboldpresentationofHazels
skullmarkshishumanityandalludestomansgreaterdepthofthought.Thewayitdisturbsthe
womansuggeststhatshe,andallSoutherners,doesnotunderstandthisdepth.OConnorimplies
thatthecitypeopleandtheirProtestantfaithareinferiortoHazelandhismoredevelopedbeliefs
becauseoftheSouthernersassociationwithanimals,creatureswholiveonlyforthepresent
withnoconceptionofanextlife.OConnorsimagerydemotesthesehumansintothelower
orderofanimals,establishingaclearhierarchyoffaiths(Asals49).Bybrazenlyasserting
Hazelshumanity,directlycontrastingtotheuncivilizedSouthernerssheassociateswithbeasts,
OConnordistinguishesHazelfromthelattergroupscorruptedfaith,elevatinghisconvictions.
Althoughlessexplicitlydefined,Hazelsfaithwascreatedthroughhisownagency,implying
thatHazelisafullyengagedparticipantinhisreligion,notjustamindless,sheeplikeworshiper.
OConnorspecificallyestablishesHazelsbeliefsaspromotingafterlifeoverworldly
happinesswithhisempatheticdeclarationsofhisownhumanity.Thesedeclarationsdefine
Hazelsseeminglyantiquatedasceticismashumanexpression.Hazelsaysmanytimesthathe
[is]clean,evenwhenhebelievessinaintnothingbutwords(OConnor49).Hazel
fornicatesandblasphemes,buthisproclamationsofpurityshowagency.Thispowerofchoice
elevatesHazeltoahigherdegreeofhumanity.Whenhededicateshisbodytoasceticism,Hazel
becomesclosertoGod.Hisselfharmingactionsblindinghimself,puttingrocksinhisboots,
wrappinghistorsoinbarbedwireareseenbysocietyas[un]natural,and[ab]normal
(OConnor228).ThisgutreactiontowardsHazelsasceticismreflectsthecitypeoples
prioritizationofworldlyhappiness.TheyfailtoseethepainHazelisselfinflictingwilltranslate


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totheeternalrewardofGodslove.Hazelassertsthiswhenhesayshisselfharmingasceticism
isnotoutofdatebecause[people]aintquitdoingitaslongas[heis](OConnor228).Hazel
declarespersonhoodevenwhileengaginginactsdeemedbarbaricbysociety.Heischoosingto
undergocorporealpaininordertoattaininfiniterewardsafterdeath.Further,OConnorhas
establishedthatSouthernProtestantcultureisanimalistic,suggestingthatwhateversociety
considersbarbaricisactuallyholy.ThisisinsinuatedbyHazelslandladyponderingifheisan
agentofthepope,anassociationthatwouldbringhimclosertoOConnorsownCatholicism
(OConnor229).Fromthestartofthenovel,Hazelengagesinunabashedcontrarianism,ardently
rejecting,evenattacking,theSouthernerstamerversionofGod.Heknowshisworshipis
unconventionalandviewedascrude,butalsoknowsthatitisthemosthumanandpure.Hazels
declarationsofhumanity,bothverbalizedinemphaticproclamationandrenderedthroughascetic
action,separatehimfurtherfromthemannerinwhichSouthernreligionprioritizescorporeal
happiness,indicatingthatOConnorfavorslivingfortheafterlife,nottheworldlypresent.
OConnordeepenshercritiqueofSouthernProtestantsanimalisticdesiresbyconnecting
themtoAmericanconsumerculture.WhenHazelpreachesabouthisneedforanewjesus,he
describesitasideallyallman,withoutbloodtowaste,and[differentlooking]fromanyother
man(OConnor140).InsightintoEnochandHazelcanbederivedfromhowtheyinterpret
thesetraits.Enochseesthemasfeaturesofaproduct.Hecommercializesthenewjesus,bringing
thesameexpectationstoitthatconsumersregularlybringtothecommoditiesthatpromiseto
makethemsmarter,moreattractive,andmorevaluableintheeyesofthemselvesandothers
(Pinkerton459).Enochwantstopursuethenewjesusbecauseofthematerialisticrewards,like
closenesswithHazel,hebelievesitwillbring.Hazel,however,wasdescribingthenewjesus


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metaphoricallyheintendeditonlyasasignifierforsomethingmoreexpansiveandmysterious
(Pinkerton460).Hazelisfocusedonthemetaphysicalrewardsofreligiontohim,thenew
jesusisnothingbutawaytosayathing(OConnor159).Hazelhasnodesiretoseean
objectifiednewjesus.Forhim,religionandreligiousconceptsdonotneedtohavephysical
manifestationsthefocusshouldbeonmeaning,whichlastseternallyandisnotephemerallike
iconography.Hazelsfaithisthusfreeofanymaterialisticundertones.Thisisprovenwhen,after
receivingtheshrunkenmummyEnochpresentstohimasthenewjesus,Hazel[throws]it
against[a]wall(OConnor188).Hazelbreakingthenewjesusistheultimaterejectionofthe
commercializationofreligionheisexercisinghisagencytodefinehimselfwithoutmaterial
identifiers.HisopinionofEnochsnewjesusisacondemnationofthephysicaldesiresprevalent
inSouthernsociety.Thus,OConnorintertwinesSouthernfaithwithconsumerism,implyingthat
toworshipinitsgospelistopledgeoneselfnottoGodbuttocapitalismandonessoulwouldbe
betterservedindevotiontoanotherfaith,likeherownCatholicism.
HazelsexperiencewithconsumerisminreligionfurthersOConnorspointthatSouthern
Protestantreligionhasbeencorrupted.TakeHazelshatredofHooverShoates,anarchetypal
buffoon[and]parasite,whotriestoturnHazelspreachingintoabusinessand,whenHazel
refusestogoalong,findsadoppelgangertobehisbusinesspartner(Rath257).Hazelrejects
Hooversoverturestowardshim,showingrepulsiontowardsthosewhoseektoprofitoff
religion.Hazelrecognizesthatreligionshouldbepursuedonlyspiritualreward,notimmediate
gains.WhenHooverattemptstoturnoneofHazelssermonsintoamoneymakingopportunity,
Hazeldeclaresitdontcost...anymoneytoknowthetruth(OConnor154).Hazelshowsno
hesitationinkickingthesymbolicmoneylenderoutofhisstreetsidetemple,acondemnationof


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theSouthernProtestanttendencytointertwinecapitalismandreligion.Hazelisconsistently
failedbyconsumerculture.HecannotfindsatisfactionintheprostituteLeoraWatts,eventually
notbeingabletolookather(OConnor63).HazelsaversiontoLeoraissubconscious.Sheis
clearlyacommoditytohim,asimmediatelyafterhestopsseeingher,hebuysacar,believing
thatnobodywithagoodcarneedstobejustified(OConnor109).Thisline,andHazels
pressingdesireforacar,impliesthathefeelshehasdonesomethingthatneedstobejustified.
ButwhatneedsjustificationisnotHazelssinoffornicationhebelievessinaintnothingbut
words(49).Instead,HazelrejectsLeoraandbuysacarbecausehesubconsciouslyrealizeshe
hascommittedthesinofconsumerism,buyingintothecapitalistpromisethathecouldattain
happinessthroughmaterialpleasures.Hazelbelievesowningacarwillgivehimthefreedomto
moveaway.Buthenevermanagestoleavethecity,despitenumeroustries,andthusisfailedby
thepromiseofconsumerculture.ItisatthispointthatHazelrealizeshistruesinwasbelieving
thispromise.Hereplacesoneconsumergood,theprostituteLeora,withanother,acar,andis
failedbyboth.Hazelsrealizationofhissinmanifestswhen,afterheloseshiscar,heput[s]
limeinhiseyesandblind[shimself](OConnor213,212).Hazelundertakeshisfirstactof
asceticism,aboldshowofhisagency,inresponsetobeingfailedbyanautomobile,aubiquitous
symbolofAmericancapitalism.Herealizeshistruesinlayinactiveparticipationin
consumerism,andbeginsselfharmingtomakeupforhispriorindulgences.Hazelsrealization
demonstrateshowProtestantismmisidentifiessin,allowingOConnortoimplythatpeople
shouldabandonsaidfaithandpursueanuncorruptedone.
Religionandconsumerismarealsotiedinthefilmadaptationthroughthejuxtaposition
ofsignsforchurchesandflyersurgingrepentancewithadvertisementsforbrandslikeCocaCola


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andDairyQueen.Thisparallelismofspiritualaspiration[and]anarchetypalimageof
commercialpopAmericanismindicatesthecorruptnatureoffaithintheAmericanSouth(Klein
231).ThisallowsOConnortomaketheargumentthatSouthernProtestantism,becauseofits
correlationwithconsumeristnotions,hasbeencorruptedbycapitalistinfluence.
InhernovelWiseBlood,FlanneryOConnorjuxtaposesthecharactersEnochandHazel
inordertomakeabroaderpointaboutreligioninAmerica.Enoch,anenthusiasticyouth,is
initiallyportrayedasreligiouslypure,becauseheactsinaccordancewithhiswiseblood.
However,Enochsmotivationsdegradeintoanimalinstinct,provingthatheisfarlessGodly
thaninitiallyassumed.Hazel,aJesuscondemningveteran,playshisfoil,andthusisinitially
presentedasasortofantipreacher,boldlyassertinghisownagencythroughhiscrusadeagainst
faith.Yet,bytheendofthenovel,hisrejectionoffaithhasturnedintoitsownkindofbelief,and
Hazelhaslearnedtoprioritizeinfinitespiritualhappinessovercorporealcomfort.Hehas
become,aChristianmalgrlui,aChristiandespitehimself(OConnori).Thus,OConnoruses
EnochsembraceandHazelsrejectionoftheanimalisticandcapitalistelementsofProtestant
religiousculturetomaketheargumentthatSouthernsocietyistoofocusedonimmediate,
worldlydesires.Sheisinsinuatingthat,inanagewhentheproliferationofconsumerproducts
likethedishwasher,television,andcarhavemadepeopleslivesaseasyandsimplisticas
animals,Americanspiritualityhasfallenintoastateofimmoralitythatcanonlyberectified
throughpainfulsacrificeandareturntooldervalues.UnderneathamaskofwildSouthern
GothicconventionsthatmostNorthernacademicswouldscoffatasmeregenreconvention,lies
amessagemeantforallofAmerica,notjusttheSouth:OConnorscondemnationof
individualistic,capitalistthinking,centraltoAmericanvalues,ascorruptandungodly.


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WorksCited
Allen,WilliamRodney."TheCageOfMatter:TheWorldAsZooInFlanneryO'Connor'sWise
Blood."AmericanLiterature58.2(1986):256.LiteraryReferenceCenter.Web.10Dec.
2014
Asals,Frederick.FlanneryO'Connor:TheImaginationofExtremity.Paperbackreissueed.
Athens:UofGeorgiaP,2007.Print.
Huston,John,dir.WiseBlood.ScreenplaybyBenedictFitzgeraldandMichaelFitzgerald.Prod.
KathyFitzgerald.Perf.BradDourif.UniversalStudios,1979.Film.
Klein,Michael."VisualizationAndSignificationInJohnHuston'sWiseBlood:TheRedemption
OfReality.."LiteratureFilmQuarterly12.4(1984):230.LiteraryReferenceCenter.
Web.10Dec.2014.
O'Connor,Flannery.WiseBlood.Paperbacked.NewYork:Farrar,StrausandGiroux,2007.
Print.
Pinkerton,Steve."ProfaningTheAmericanReligion:FlanneryO'Connor'sWiseBlood."Studies
InTheNovel43.4(2011):449469.LiteraryReferenceCenter.Web.10Dec.2014.
Rath,SuraPrasad."ComicPolaritiesInFlanneryO'Connor'sWiseBlood."StudiesInShort
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_____Thesisclearlyencapsulatesaspecific,provableargument.
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_____Conclusionsummarizesandaddsinsightwithoutbeingrepetitive.
_____Eachpointisthoughtfulandsupportedwithwellchosenevidencefromyourtext,
criticism,and/orilluminatingtext.
_____Quotesareblendedandcited.
_____MLAformatisfollowed,includingforWorksCitedpage.
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LitExGradingRubric
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_____Thesisclearlyencapsulatesaspecific,provableargument.Clarityinphrasingneeded
regardingthematerialistichappinessdoesntseemtodojusticetothelateranalysisand
conclusionformed
_____Paperislogicallyorganizedtopersuasivelymakeyourargument.asawhole,yes!
_____Conclusionsummarizesandaddsinsightwithoutbeingrepetitive.absolutely
_____Eachpointisthoughtfulandsupportedwithwellchosenevidencefromyourtext,
criticism,and/orilluminatingtext.attimesneedsabitmore
_____Quotesareblendedandcited.verywelldone
_____MLAformatisfollowed,includingforWorksCitedpage.
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