8 December 1995
Whose Deformity is the Most Serious
Flannery O' Connor's noted religious work Wise Blood is the tale of the perplexing and
trying theological journey of one of its principal characters, Hazel Motes, and the constant
struggles of another chief personality, Enoch Emery, to gain acceptance into the local social
structure. The theme of physical and mental disfigurements in its main characters is utilized to
create an interesting plot. Despite the fact that Hazel's malformations are far more serious than
Enoch's, both characters posses significant deformities in their outer appearance and emotional
stability. Enoch's disfigurements are critical due to their unorthodox and child-like nature, but
Hazel's are greater in number and more relative to his existence.
Enoch Emery's emotional severe mental disfigurements lead to his rather odd physical
deformities. Enoch is driven by two distinct elements: his instincts and his desire to be accepted
into civilization. These two factors attribute most to his defects. His intuition causes him to
believe that his blood is wise and can lead his life. By bestowing his trust in his blood, he often
takes things too literally. For instance, Hazel Motes preaches that his religion desperately needs
a new Jesus, and Enoch, perceiving this Jesus to be an actual being, follows his instincts and
brings Hazel a three-foot shrunken man whom he honestly believes to be the savior. Before
actually donating the messiah to Hazel, Enoch's blood directs him to clean his room in order to
house Jesus. This particular misconception may cause many readers to regard Enoch as rather
insane, but his actions but his most prominent deformity is his admiration for and eventual
metamorphoses into a gorilla. Consequently, his attraction to the gorilla stems directly from his
aspiration to be received in a welcoming manner by society. He sees an assemblage of people
waiting in a long line to shake hands with a man dressed in the costume of a noted primate from
films, Gonga. Not surprisingly, Enoch stands in the line to shake the apes hand. The gorilla
shaking Enoch's hand is the first inviting gesture anyone or thing has demonstrated to him since
he arrived in Taulkinham. After this encounter Enoch is in awe of the primates ability to be
revered, and he desires to be a gorilla in order to gain acceptance. At the completion of the story
Enoch accomplishes his goal when he steals a gorilla outfit from the man made up as Gonga.
Enoch hurries to the nearest woods and strips down to his skin. Next, he buries the clothes,
which he perceives to be at the root of his lack of friends, and recovers his body with the ape
costume. Following this transformation the narrator describes Enoch with this statement, " No
gorilla in existence, whether in the jungles of Africa or California, or in New York City in the
finest apartment in the world, was happier at that moment than this one, whose god had finally
rewarded it. " Perhaps the narrator is correct by saying that its gad had finally rewarded it
because as deformed and distorted as Enoch appears in the end he finds happiness.
Hazel Mote's character contains numerous presentation flaws that stem from his
contradictory religious ideology. Hazel arrives in Taulkinham prepared to preach his new
religion, The Church without Christ. The basis behind the church is that Jesus did not readily die
for the sins of the world, and therefore, sin and deliverance do not exist. Although Hazel
believes in a religion lacking preachers, he wears the garments of a pastor, a white suit and a
large Panama hat. This deformity is the first displayed by Hazel. and also the most noticeable.
In addition, the preacher's hat becomes distorted . During Hazel's sexual exploits with the local
prostitute, Mrs. Leora Watts; she cuts obscene shapes into Hazel' beloved hat. At the conclusion
of the story he undergoes a religious transformation and accepts the Christian faith to which he
previously subscribed. In doing so, he carries out several drastic pain inflicting and handicap
causing measures in order to save his once lost soul. Some of his drastic actions include blinding
himself by soaking his eyes in lime, wrapping barbed wire around his chest, and walking several
blocks daily in shoes filled with jagged rocks. As a result of his extreme response, Hazel is left
with various handicaps: he cannot see, he has a conspicuous limp, and he chest is scared from
the sharp barbed wire. Furthermore, Hazel develops an added flaw. He discards all excess
money. He maintains that he has no need for excess money. This deformity is also connected to
his strong intent to redeem his sins.
Hazel Motes also demonstrates several mental disfigurements. The most prevalent
distortion in Hazel's mental configuration is that he is a Christian in spite of himself. He
constantly bashes Jesus and Christianity, but in actuality, he is condemning the religion he loves.
This fact is best evidenced by his preaching of the Church Without Christ, and his later intense
endeavors to redeem his sins as mentioned earlier. Also, he believes his Essex vehicle to be a
beautiful piece of perfection when in fact, it is a cheaply built, troublesome, and unsightly car.
He trusts his vehicle to be the means by which he conveys his religious message. This
misconception is made clear when his car is tipped over a ledge by a undignified police officer.
Following this event, Hazel gives up all faith in his church and performs the soul-saving tactics
The use of disfigurements in the chief roles of Flannery O' Connor's Wise Blood
contributes immensely to the plot as well as develop an interesting theme to add to the aura of the
story. Hazel's and Enoch's deformities are not comparable in severity. Enoch's flaws are mostly
due to his intuitive personality and his aspirations of becoming a fixed member of civilization,
and as the story ends he is content with himself and life. On the other hand, Enoch's physical and
mental distortions are considerably more vital to his survival. His flaws cause him physical pain
compounded with mental anguish, and at the conclusion of this novel he is dead. Thus, it can be
concluded that Hazel's disfigurement is the most serious.
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/whose-deformity-is-more-serious.php