Wise Blood

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The landlady at the boarding house where Asa Hawks and Sabbath Lily Hawks have a room, and where Hazel moves in upstairs. The final chapter is told from her perspective, recounting her developing relationship with the injured Hazel, through the moment when Mrs. Flood asks Hazel to marry her. She doesn’t believe much in religion, but is eager to make sure that she is not being cheated in any way by people who seem to see something she doesn’t.

Mrs. Flood Quotes in Wise Blood

The Wise Blood quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Flood or refer to Mrs. Flood. 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 14 Quotes

“People have quit doing it,” she repeated. “What do you do it for?”
“I’m not clean,” he said.
She stood staring at him, unmindful of the broken dishes at her feet. “I know it,” she said after a minute, “you got blood on that night shirt and on the bed. You ought to get you a washwoman…”
“That’s not the kind of clean,” he said.
“There’s only one kind of clean, Mr. Motes,” she muttered.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker), Mrs. Flood (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Mrs. Flood discovers Haze's self-imposed penance, seeing him in his room with barbed wire wrapped underneath his bloody shirt. The simple Mrs. Flood, who is not in the least spiritually inclined, cannot comprehend Haze's decision to punish himself for being unclean, fixating instead on the literal mess that his blood has caused. As far as Mrs. Flood is concerned, there really is no kind of clean outside of the literal.

Mrs' Flood's blissful ignorance of sin and guilt is in many ways the animal approach to living that Hazel tried so hard to adopt, but his spiritual destiny would never allow him to forget his conscience, formed by a deeply religious upbringing with an emphasis on redemption. Now, just as Hazel was never able to truly understand the un-self-conscious living of Ms. Watts or Mrs. Flood, Mrs. Flood finds herself unable to understand Hazel's spiritual obsession.

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She had never observed his face so composed and she grabbed his hand and held it to her heart. It was resistless and dry. The outline of a skull was plain under his skin and the deep burned eye sockets seemed to lead into the dark tunnel where he had disappeared. She leaned closer and closer to his face, looking deep into them, trying to see how she had been cheated or what had cheated her, but she couldn’t see anything. She shut her eyes and saw the pin point of light but so far away that she could not hold it steady in her mind. She felt as if she were blocked at the entrance of something. She sat staring with her eyes shut, into his eyes, and felt as if she had finally got to the beginning of something she couldn’t begin, and she saw him moving farther and farther away, farther and farther into the darkness until he was the pin point of light.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes, Mrs. Flood
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Mrs. Flood stares into Hazel's eyes after he has passed away, brought back from the winter storm by a pair of policemen who accidentally kill him en route. Mrs. Flood has become fascinated by the distance that separates her from Hazel, by his perspective on the world which is so foreign and inscrutable to her, and now that he is dead this distance is all the greater, drawing her in still further so that she holds his hand to her heart. The outline of a skull in his face, a sort of Memento Mori, is a reminder of the ephemerality of life and the closeness of death, which Hazel sought out so determinedly. 

Determined to bridge the gap between them and understand the secret that gives Hazel the composure and conviction she sees in him now, Mrs. Flood closes her eyes; Hazel has already told her that one sees more acutely when one is blind, a claim he makes literal by blinding himself to the world in order to see inside himself more clearly. With the focus that this gives her, she is able to see what is perhaps the image of Hazel's soul passing on into the afterlife, peaceful and distant, leaving the world and its struggles behind forever. 

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Mrs. Flood Character Timeline in Wise Blood

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Flood appears in Wise Blood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
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
...when he reaches the house he fills the bucket with lime and water. His landlady, Mrs. Flood , asks what he is doing, and he tells her he is going to blind... (full context)
Chapter 14
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
This question—what would drive someone to blind themselves—stays with Mrs. Flood , because Hazel does indeed blind himself, and she is constantly reminded of this fact... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...and that she missed her father, Asa. Two months later Sabbath returned, shouting and screaming. Mrs. Flood told Hazel he would have to pay double if she stayed, so he did. When... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
Later, Mrs. Flood steams open the envelope containing Hazel’s government check, and raises his rent when she finds... (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
Mrs. Flood enjoys sitting on the porch with Hazel, although she cannot always tell if he knows... (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
Mrs. Flood reflects on what is inside Hazel’s head, and decides that it must be big enough... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
Mrs. Flood wonders what happens with the extra third of Hazel’s benefit check. She knows that it... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
Mrs. Flood decides, officially, to marry Hazel, so that he is under the control of “a sensible... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Later Mrs. Flood discovers what is taking Hazel’s time, and why he limps. Cleaning his room one day,... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
Mrs. Flood becomes obsessed by Hazel, following him on his walks and badgering him about his health.... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
Mrs. Flood wakes Hazel and asks why he does these “unnatural” things. He says that they are... (full context)
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
At first Mrs. Flood had planned to marry Hazel and then commit him to the insane asylum, but now... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Instinct and the Animal Theme Icon
The Nature of Truth Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
As Hazel leaves, Mrs. Flood tells him that there’s no other place for him to go. She’s sure he will... (full context)
Religious Belief, Redemption, and Sin Theme Icon
Free Will vs. Destiny Theme Icon
Isolation and the Outsider Theme Icon
...of the squad car, but the policemen don’t notice, and they deliver his corpse to Mrs. Flood . (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
Mrs. Flood has the policemen lay Hazel on her bed, and she tells his tranquil, empty face... (full context)