Chapter 1

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.

Chapter 4 (let’s see if I am still confused)

Okay so I am not as confused. Haze had just woken up next to Mrs. Watts. He used her as an escape or a beckon for his freedom. He leaves to find a car that morning that will also aid in the assertion of his freedom.

Haze roams to a “used car lot” and finds an Essex car that is $50. It is all busted up and somewhat broken yet Slade (the guy that sold it to him) made him pay more than it was worth. Haze bargained but was not happy he had to pay that much for a car. He ended up paying $45 and used the rest to pay for gas. What I am trying to say is that he finally got a car but not a good one.

1923 Essex car

Hazel finds a boulder on the side of the road on his way to the zoo. He also encounters Godly sayings on some signs. They are “signs” from God. Hazel just keeps trying to out run his faith, but, as you can see, he cannot. Him running from God is going to be his downfall. If he would just stop running he would realize he is already free.

Kind of lost and confused

It’s been days since I last wrote. We left off where Haze spent the night at Mrs. Leora Watts’ house. He is in emotional turmoil after his abandonment.

The start of chapter three is a little confusing. Haze starts off outside of a store where a man is selling potato peelers. A BLIND man and his young daughter are passing out pamphlets Hazel ignores them like he does not see them.

Hazel (the eye color) can really be any color it just depends on the angle or perspective. Also, Haze’s last name ties into the story and his eyes. Motes is a term taken from the King James version of Matthew chapter seven. In other translations of the Bible a mote is said to be like sawdust. When you have a speck of sawdust in your eyes it makes it harder to see, but if you have a whole board in your eye then you DEFINITELY cannot see. You are blind to yourself when others see better than you.

A mote is like a speck but it can cause you not to see things just like sawdust in your eyes.

What I am tying these verses into is Hazel’s name and how he is pretty much blind. Hazel eyes have no specific color, and when you have a mote in your eye, it is hard to see. Hazel is blind to his surroundings. He tries to block everything out.

He constantly denies the fact that his family is gone, the line of preachers he comes from, and the fact that he is a Christian. He is pushing his Christianity away just like the rest of society (1920’s). People believe they do not need their faith to live a free and righteous life, but in all reality that little voice in the back of their heads saying they do need their Christianity, this makes them feel guilty about their actions and life in general. Haze ignores the blind preacher outside the store. I guess that shows how blind he is to his own faith and surroundings as well.

Hazel Motes blocks out the Lord. He is blind to what he needs to do. He is considered a gross character in many ways too. Enoch Emory is the opposite of this; he shows real character. Enoch may have been rejected by the world, but he does not react the same way Haze does. We only get bits and pieces of who Enoch is because of Haze’s quest to find Asa Hawks (the blind preacher). Enoch constantly tried to escape from a Bible academy and did. I do not know about his faith. I feel like he is running from it just like Haze is.

Once Hazel finds the preacher he gives him the potato peeler, but his daughter rejects it by telling her father what Haze did to their pamphlets. Sabbath Lily thinks he came for the preacher when in all reality evidence shows he came for the young girl. If he is so against his faith, why is he following around a preacher and his daughter? For a sense of security? Maybe he feels attracted to Sabbath Lily.

So Hazel claims to be an atheist yet he somehow got put into a street preaching operation with the blind preacher. This is kind of ironic because Haze supposedly has perfectly good sight, but the preacher sees more than him. Here’s the weird thing… Haze is starting a church that does not have Christ. He feels obligated to defend his sins that trapped him in the past as well as others’ sins. He attacks the religion he wants to get rid of. Also since he has Mrs. Leora Watts he thinks he does not need Jesus. Hazel also uses his connection with Leora to get rid of Enoch. Enoch thinks Haze has “wiser blood” because he always ends up drawn to religion even after he tries to rid himself of it.

O’Connor uses Hazel’s sins, and how it roils inside of him, to show how society is conflicted with sex and redemption. Haze did not want Jesus to die for him because he does not care about his sins or religion.

Chapter 2

At the end of the first chapter, O’Connor leaves us with Hazel who just realized he was abandoned by his family. He lost his faith in God because he felt like he was being punished for choosing to be in the war instead of being a preacher like his grandfather. O’Connor begins this chapter with Haze using the bathroom at a local train station.

Haze gets off of a train and heads to the bathroom and what he finds written on the wall proves his attitude, since he found out his family left, is negative. He finds, “Mrs. Leora Watts! 60 Buckley Road The friendliest bed in town!” on the wall. When he gets in the taxi that had just arrived outside the station, Haze is asked if he is a friend of Mrs. Leora. So Haze is going to see a complete stranger, and the taxi driver seems to know what this woman is like. I think it is safe to assume that this particular taxi driver has had run-ins with many men who go to see this woman. The taxi driver assumes Haze is a preacher based on his choice of clothing. Haze is not a preacher and denies all aspects of being or wanting to be one. Apparently it is not a good thing to be seen with this woman if you are a preacher.

Seeing as Haze is the grandson of a preacher, many people make assumptions that he does not do bad things. Since Haze has been abandoned and forgotten by his family, he has lost hope in God and is retaliating. He does not care about his actions or anything right now. His salvation is lost, and he is forcing himself to be like an atheist. Mrs. Leora comes off as in control of everything and seems a little entitled. Haze tells her that he is not a preacher, but she pays no attention to it.

Mrs. Leora is pretty much a prostitute. She is the “friendliest bed in town.” Now how do you think men in that day and age would take this? Well, they would take the chance to get what they desire. Motes took that chance. Once the taxi driver took him to her house, he was very open with her. He even put his hand on her thigh as if he was trying to seduce her. She made him feel at home and welcome. She minded her own business, but at the same time she did not. I feel like Haze does not know what to do since he was left behind; he may be in denial or shock at this point. He also could not care anymore. Quite frankly, I would feel the same way he did.

In the end of this chapter, Haze ends up spending the night with Mrs. Leora. I think it is safe to assume that something happened between them especially after what the woman said to him after he told her he was not a preacher. She was flirtatious and told him “Momma don’t mind if you ain’t no preacher.” This does not really give us an idea of what is going to happen in the next chapter so I kept asking myself questions. Like what is going to happen to Haze? Is Mrs. Leora going to be in the picture? What is Haze going to do and why? Why is all of this happening to him?

Haze’s faith is hazy… he does not understand the plan God has for him. It makes me question whether he is a believer or not. He does not show he is guilty for his actions, but that he feels forsaken.