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Wise Blood book cover
Published in 1952, WISE BLOOD is the first of two novels written by Flannery O'Connor. THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY, her second novel, was published in 1960.

by Flannery O'Connor

After encountering an old blind man and young girl handing out religious tracts in Taulkinham, Hazel Motes remembers the penance he did as a child after seeing a naked woman at the carnival.

"What you seen," She said, using the same tone of voice all the time. She hit him across the legs with the stick, but he was like part of the tree. "Jesus died to redeem you," she said.

"I never ast him," he muttered.

She didn't hit him again but she stood looking at him, shut-mouthed, and he forgot the guilt that was in him. In a minute she threw the stick away from her and went back to the washpot, still shut-mouthed.

The next day he took his shoes in secret out into the woods. He didn't wear them except for revivals and in the winter. He took them out of the box and filled the bottoms of them with stones and small rocks and then he put them on. He laced them up tight and walked in them through the woods for what he knew to be a mile, until he come to a creek, and then he sat down and took then off and eased his feet in the wet sand. He thought, that ought to satisfy Him. Nothing happened. If a stone had fallen he would have taken it as a sign. After a while he drew his feet out of the sand and let them dry, and then he put the shoes on again with the rocks still in them and he walked a half-mile back before he took them off.
O'Connor discusses religion in her first letter to Betty Hester (designated "A" for anonymous in THE HABIT OF BEING), who became a close friend and regular correspondent. more
O'Connor discusses literary influences in a letter to a writer and teacher from Forsyth, Georgia. more
Experts in Agee Films' PROPHETS & POETS: THE HISTORY OF MODERN SOUTHERN LITERATURE discuss O'Connor's life and career. more
religious road signs Flannery O'Connor
The American Novel