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The Reading Jackalope

The Violent Bear it Away

The Violent Bear it Away - Flannery O'Connor Can you ever escape the destiny laid out for you? This book would have us to believe that no, you can't. And even as you violently fight against it, you will still do that which is laid out for you.

I'm not sure how I feel about the book. On one hand, I really enjoyed how O'Connor showed the struggle between religion and secular beliefs. It's the pull between secularism and religion, you MUST baptize the boy vs. the boy is a useless burden, that causes the horrifying drowning/baptism. And then Tarwater himself is later victimized as he is struggling to figure out where he belongs, pulled still between the secularism of his uncle and the religion of his great-uncle. Ultimately, religion wins, because O'Connor was deeply religious. However, I am honestly horrified by the image of poor, crazed Tarwater going out to save the world. While I understand that O'Connor wants the reader to see his destiny as being fulfilled, I can't quite reach that point. And I can't get there because even though the religion side of the argument wins (the child is baptized while dying, his uncle was buried) Tarwater is so traumatized by the pull, and actually violated on his way home (a link back to the Jonah story), that I can't see him as a sane individual anymore. The pull of his destiny actually drives him crazy. In what sense is that religion winning?

If Tarwater is supposed to be a modern day prophet, he is tested to the point where he breaks. At what point then does the line between prophet and crazy get crossed?