Flannery O’Connor’s book Wise Blood was published in 1952. It is considered a Southern Gothic novel about a young American soldier who goes off to war in Europe from the time he was eighteen until he was twenty-two. When Hazel “Haze” Motes returns from the war, he finds his home abandoned. The only thing he finds is his mother’s chifforobe.
Haze Motes is the grandson of a preacher who is judged by all of the towns people when he returns from war. His dream, before he was drafted into the war, was to become a preacher like his grandfather. Now that he is back in town and his family is not there he loses faith in God. Many people in the town assume he is still going to become a preacher but he denies all aspects of his own faith. He goes toward an anti-Christian approach to his emotions and transfers it into his actions. Haze’s feelings of abandonment changes how he goes about his return to town. His actions are on the down low; he does not talk to many people and stays out of other’s business. He distances himself from society which shows conflict within himself and conflict from him toward society. This illustrates a connection between characters, but O’Connor makes the reader figure out which characters are connected or have some type of relationship from the past.
Flannery O’Connor demonstrates connection between characters. Motes is introduced to us while he is riding a train back home, and he says he knows the porter on the train. The porter could care less about Haze. This honesty from the porter towards Haze foreshadows the fact that he does not know everything that has gone on since he left for war. He does not even know that his family has left; he believes they are at home waiting to welcome him in. Hazel Motes also meets a woman on the train who is very fond of him, but this connection does not continue once he gets off of the train.
Flannery O’Connor’s use of minor characters allows us to further look into who the main character is and how we can put his problems into perspective for us. Every soldier wants to see his family when he gets home from war or deployment. We cannot quite understand his feeling of abandonment, but we can understand that he is in denial. He does not want to believe what has happened to him. The porter, Mrs. Wally Bee Hitchcock, and the mentions of Mrs. Hitchcock’s children play a minor role in how welcome Haze feels when he returns. This changes, though, when he actually gets back to Eastrod, Tennessee. Everything was cleared out of his house when he got there except for the chifforobe his mother left for him along with a note telling people not to steal it. A chifforobe is a piece of furniture with drawers on one side and hanging space on the other. I do not know why a mother would leave just a piece of furniture for her deployed son. A mother should care if her own son came back and wanted to be with his family, but instead he is left not knowing where he went wrong and why they all left. He feels alone.