Wise Blood

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Asa Hawks / The Blind Man Character Analysis

The father of Sabbath Lily Hawks, he earns money begging as a blind preacher, but is in fact a fraud. The scars on his face are from a real event, at which he had promised to blind himself for Jesus, but he lost his nerve before he could put any of the dangerous lime into his eyes. Hazel becomes obsessed with this dark figure, who claims, correctly, that he (Hazel) will never be able to escape from Jesus.

Asa Hawks / The Blind Man Quotes in Wise Blood

The Wise Blood quotes below are all either spoken by Asa Hawks / The Blind Man or refer to Asa Hawks / The Blind Man. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of Wise Blood published in 2007.
Chapter 3 Quotes

“I come a long way,” Haze said, “since I would believe anything. I come halfway around the world.
“Me too,” Enoch Emery said.
“You ain’t come so far that you could keep from following me,” the blind man said. He reached out suddenly and his hands covered Haze’s face. For a second Haze didn’t move or make any sound. Then he knocked the hands off.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker), Enoch Emory (speaker), Asa Hawks / The Blind Man (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel confronts the blind street preacher, Asa Hawks. Hawks is a figure of what Hazel might have become if he had followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, and Hazel seems fascinated by the dark vision that he represents – a fascination that Hawks picks up on, taking it as evidence that Hazel has some unresolved religious destiny that haunts his past and will inevitably catch back up to him in the future. The surprisingly intimate moment here, initiated by Hawks, who puts his hands over Hazel's face, shows us the kinship between the two dark souls, even as Hazel quickly rejects Hawks' touch. That Hawks presumes he has a right to this intimacy deeply angers Hazel, who has decided to distance himself from his religious destiny and hates being reminded that it follows him in spite of the many miles he has traveled during his time in the military, and the many experiences that ought to have divided him from people like Hawks. 

Enoch, meanwhile, pipes up in an attempt to join in, desperate as he is for connection, but is ignored by all parties. He is an outsider, even here among society's outsiders. 

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Chapter 6 Quotes

Ten years ago at a revival he had intended to blind himself and two hundred people or more were there, waiting for him to do it. He had preached for an hour on the blindness of Paul, working himself up until he had saw himself struck blind by a Divine flash of lightning and, with courage enough then, he had thrust his hands into the bucket of wet lime and streaked them down his face; but he hadn’t been able to let any of it get into his eyes. He had been possessed of as many devils as were necessary to do it, but at that instant, they disappeared, and he saw himself standing there as he was.

Related Characters: Asa Hawks / The Blind Man
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, the dramatic truth behind Asa Hawks' false identity as the blind preacher is revealed. He is not blind at all, in fact; although he had once promised to blind himself, to prove his religious zeal, he was unable to carry out the blinding in front of those who had massed to witness the act. Asa now lives a lie, as a false preacher and beggar. He is not the pure, spiritual threat that Hazel at first saw in him, but a deeply hypocritical, bitter figure whose entire persona is based in a deception. Any true believer in Christ threatens Hazel's claim that there is no soul, but the threat that Asa represents is – in some ways disappointingly, for Hazel, when he discovers the truth – a hollow one. 

Back in his days as a preacher, Asa's zeal seemed real enough; he was prepared to blind himself, with a fiery passion that recalls the vengeful rhetoric of Hazel's grandfather. Ultimately, though, this passion was also deceptive, based in a need to over-perform belief. Hazel, later in the novel, rejects this need to perform and the lie at Asa's core by actually blinding himself and withdrawing from the world entirely, retreating into himself and his painful self-inflicted penance.

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Asa Hawks / The Blind Man Character Timeline in Wise Blood

The timeline below shows where the character Asa Hawks / The Blind Man appears in Wise Blood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
The salesman’s demonstration is then interrupted by a tall, thin man dressed all in black and with a scarred face, who is followed by a young girl. Hazel stares at... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the man in black , who is blind, begs from the assembled crowd, threatening to preach, and asking for... (full context)
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...salesman’s attention to buy a peeler, but the salesman is still angrily engaged with the blind preacher . The young girl defiantly tries to buy a peeler, but she doesn’t have enough... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...and how difficult it is to make friends there. They begin to catch up to the blind man and the young girl, who are headed toward a large domed building surrounded by parked... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
The young girl rejects the device at first, but the blind man threatens her and she reluctantly takes it from the persistent Hazel. Hazel explains that he... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...Jesus,” which she takes as evidence that he did not come for the preacher. The blind man laughs, ignoring the girl, and tells Hazel that he can’t run from Jesus. Enoch pipes... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...just like Jesus, with long hair and a scar—although he’s never seen his mother. The blind man and Hazel continue to ignore him. The young girl steps in and tells a story... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
...point the conversation is interrupted by the large crowd about to exit the building, which the blind man calls his congregation. He distributes pamphlets and splits the four of them into two teams,... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...He gets a few glances as the crowd thins out and disappears. Hazel announces to the blind man and the young girl that he doesn’t need Jesus, since he has Leora Watts. (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...behind, but the voice of the blind man stops him. The man shouts out his name—Asa Hawks—to make it easier for Hazel to follow him next time. Hawks yells at Hazel... (full context)
Chapter 5
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...is flattered that Hazel came to see him. Hazel asks him where the blind man, Asa Hawks, lives. Enoch tells him he has something to show him, gripping him, but Hazel... (full context)
Chapter 6
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
That evening Haze drives around town until he finds Asa Hawks and the young girl. He follows them home, pressing his face against the car... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
The next morning Hazel goes to the house where Asa Hawks lives, and asks the suspicious landlady if he can rent a room. He tells... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
...the door, and tells her father that it is the boy who keeps following her. Asa comes to the door, looking sour and unfriendly. Hazel tells him that he has moved... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Removing his dark glasses, Asa peers out the window at Hazel as he gets in his car and drives away—it’s... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...decides to seduce the young girl. If he sees his daughter ruined, Hazel thinks, then Asa will understand that Hazel is serious about the Church Without Christ. Hazel is also tired... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...they are eating supper. He doesn’t look at the young girl, but stays focused on Asa, who barely managed to get his dark glasses on before Hazel entered. Hazel asks why... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...telling her that he came because he “never saw anybody looked as good” as her. Asa is annoyed that Haze left with his clipping, but the girl mockingly reminds him that... (full context)
Chapter 7
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...that she is a bastard, as her parents were unmarried. Hazel is so surprised that Asa could have a bastard that he nearly drives into the ditch. (full context)
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Hazel continues to interrogate Sabbath about Asa’s past, asking what it was that caused him to believe in Jesus. Sabbath slides her... (full context)
Chapter 9
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
Since Hazel moved in, Asa Hawks has been hiding from him behind the bolted door of his room. Hawks is... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...little boys, who tries to climb into the car with him. He expects to see Asa Hawks come, but he never does. Waking up, Hazel tries the starter, and the car... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
Hazel drives home, and then decides to pick the lock on Asa Hawks’ door. He does so, and then he crosses the dark room to Hawks’ bed,... (full context)
Chapter 10
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...the bed. She stubbornly refuses to leave, but Hazel ignores her. She tells him that Asa has left, and says that she saw Hazel come in and uncover Asa’s secret. She’s... (full context)
Chapter 14
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...not counted on him being an “honest-to-Jesus blind man,” and that she missed her father, Asa. Two months later Sabbath returned, shouting and screaming. Mrs. Flood told Hazel he would have... (full context)