Wise Blood

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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 1 Quotes

In his half-sleep he thought where he was lying was like a coffin. The first coffin he had seen with someone in it was his grandfather’s. They had left it propped open with a stick of kindling the night it had sat in the house with the old man in it, and Hazel had watched from a distance, thinking: he ain’t going to let them shut it on him; when the time comes, his elbow is going to shoot into the crack. His grandfather had been a circuit preacher, a waspish old man who had ridden over three counties with Jesus hidden in his head like a stinger. When it was time to bury him, they shut the top of his box down and he didn’t make a move.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Related Symbols: Coffins
Page Number: 13-14
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel lies in a bunk of the train's sleeping compartment and reflects on the burials he has seen. Soon he will have an attack of claustrophobia, as the memories of the deaths of his various family members accumulate in his nightmare and overwhelm him. The first image from that string of burials is of his grandfather, a fiery country preacher who terrified and fascinated the young Hazel. That elder Motes, we later learn, instilled in Hazel the dark tendency toward a self-hating, guilty religious sensibility. For this "waspish" man, religion was something pointed and violent, and he often verbally abused the young Hazel to make his point. It is to avoid following in his grandfather's footsteps that Hazel is fleeing now, toward someplace new; he wants to escape the religious destiny that his family background had ordained for him. 

In the mind of the younger Hazel, his grandfather had supernatural, frightening powers, but he was nonetheless unable to escape death when his time came. Death comes inescapably to the rest of Hazel's family as well, leaving him an isolated outsider with an ingrained fear of the death that must come to him eventually. 


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The boy didn’t need to hear it. There was already a black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin. He knew by the time he was twelve years old that he was going to be a preacher. Later he saw Jesus move from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he was not sure of his footing, where he might be walking on the water and not know it and then suddenly know it and drown.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel experiences a flashback to his time as a twelve-year-old boy, following his fiery grandfather and pious mother around the county to witness his grandfather's sermons, which might also be described as holy tirades. From that early age, Hazel's worldview becomes dominated by a fear of Jesus, who has been painted in his life as a dark, wild, vengeful creature. This Jesus is most at home in the wilderness, a nightmarish, creeping figure who haunts Hazel's consciousness, ever intruding on its fringes. This dark Jesus is always hiding just beyond the next corner in Hazel's life, even now that he has decided to flee his religious destiny.

The idea that Hazel could be unknowingly walking on water in the dark until he suddenly realized it and immediately drowned, suggests that what holds Hazel back from his faith is fear, or self-consciousness. It is a dark, frightening image born in the mind of twelve-year-old Hazel, and one that clearly still informs Hazel's morbid worldview as a young man desperately determined to escape the clutches of his religious fate. 

They told him he didn’t have any soul and left him for their brothel. He took a long time to believe them because he wanted to believe them. All he wanted was to believe them and get rid of it once and for all, and he saw the opportunity here to get rid of it without corruption, to be converted to nothing instead of to evil.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel remembers his introduction to the army, when two of his fellow soldiers invited him to join them at the brothel and he refused for religious reasons, to keep his soul clean. They respond by mocking Hazel's refusal, and at his attempt to convert them, confirming the novel's continual painting of Hazel as an outsider, different from the people around him.

Hazel is intrigued by their idea that he does not have a soul at all, since all his life he has felt chained down by his obligation to resist sin, weighed down by guilt. All he wants is to escape, and to sin deliberately would be one means of doing so – but he does not have the same animal ability to leave his conscience behind exhibited by his fellow soldiers, much as he would like to. He envies them this easy relationship with sin, a relationship that essentially negates the whole concept of sin by denying the existence of the soul. This is the truth that Hazel finishes his time in the army by believing, and now that he is back in the South he is determined to spread this truth – that there is no soul, and no sin, and no evil to be afraid of. 

Chapter 2 Quotes

They stared at each other for almost a minute and neither moved. Then he said in a voice that was higher than his usual voice, “What I mean to have you know is I’m no goddamn preacher.”
Mrs. Watts eyed him steadily and with only a slight smirk. Then she put her other hand under his face and tickled it in a motherly way. “That’s okay, son,” she said. “Momma don’t mind if you ain’t a preacher.”

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker), Leora Watts (speaker)
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel puts up resistance for one final moment before giving in to the waiting Mrs. Watts, a town prostitute whose address Hazel found scrawled on a bathroom stall in the town's train station. He has snuck into her bedroom uninvited, but she lies in wait on the bed, a grotesque, motherly figure. The two size one another up in silence, in an animal stare-down that ends when the highly agitated Hazel asserts his most important truth – he is no "goddamn preacher." This protest is unprompted, at least by Mrs. Watts – it's a response, rather, to the misunderstanding of his cab driver, who saw his hat and assumed he was a country preacher, and to the destiny he is desperate to escape.

This desperation is what led him to Mrs. Watts, since he believes that sin as an expression of his free will will finally break the hold that the guilt of religion has over his conscience. Hazel wants to escape his spirituality by chasing the animal in himself, and he comes to the animalistic Mrs. Watts to gain refuge from or otherwise try to escape that spiritual, religious side of himself. Be believes that sex with Mrs. Watts will be proof of his rigid belief in the nonexistence of the soul, an act of principle linked with instinct, but mostly divorced from desire. Mrs. Watts, for her part, misunderstands the frustrated Hazel, forgiving him good-naturedly as if he had been confessing a shameful fact about himself. 

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. 

“Sweet Jesus Christ Crucified,” he said, “I want to tell you people something. Maybe you think you’re not clean because you don’t believe. Well you are clean, let me tell you that. Every one of you people are clean and let me tell you why if you think it’s because of Jesus Christ Crucified you’re wrong. I don’t say he wasn’t crucified but I say it wasn’t for you. Listenhere, I’m a preacher myself and I preach the truth.”

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker)
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel makes up his mind to become a sort of anti-preacher, finding at long last the purpose behind his voyage to Taulkinham and the self-made expression of free will that he believes most perfectly subverts the religious destiny he hopes to avoid. Ironically, though, this new role will only further the public perception that he is a man of religion, and reveals his continuing obsession with the Church (even if that obsession reveals itself through his anti-Church teachings). This irony is encapsulated in Hazel's choice to begin his tirade with a curse that actually just invokes the figure, Christ, that Hazel had hoped to reject.

Rather than giving up the spiritual as he had hoped, he finds himself focused on it from another direction, reacting in anger against Asa Hawks' Christian evangelizing by evangelizing on behalf of his own, particular atheism. The most important principle of Hazel's new Church at this early stage is a vicious devotion to the truth, an atheistic truth that rejects any comfort Christianity might offer. At the same time, though, it relieves any guilt that Christianity might impose, by claiming that everyone is already clean and does not need to be cleaned, spiritually, by the sacrifice of the crucifixion. This obsession with cleanliness is a major part of Hazel's relationship to religion – he has been brought up to feel the guilt of sin very acutely, and fought all of his life to escape from the sense of dirtiness that his grandfather's version of Christianity suggested followed everyone wherever they went. 

Mrs. Watts’ grin was as curved and sharp as the blade of a sickle. It was plain that she was so well-adjusted that she didn’t have to think anymore. Her eyes took everything in whole, like quicksand. “That Jesus-seeing hat!” she said. She sat up and pulled her nightgown from under her and took it off. She reached for his hat and put it on her head and sat with her hands on her hips, walling her eyes in a comical way. Haze stared for a minute, then he made three quick noises that were laughs. He jumped for the electric light cord and took off his clothes in the dark.

Related Characters: Leora Watts (speaker), Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Related Symbols: Hazel’s Hat
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel returns to Mrs. Watts' room one more time. He seeks companionship, perhaps, and also to drown himself in the physical, animal intimacy that he has decided proves he no longer believes in sin or being unclean – that he no longer believes in the soul at all. The notion that visiting a whorehouse is a rejection of the soul has been with Hazel since the army, when his fellow soldiers offered to take him there. Now, Hazel finally finds himself capable of following their example, after having found his purpose in Taulkinham as a preacher of the Church Without Christ. This is a triumphant moment for him, then – but he still has difficulty giving in, at last, to this animal act.

It is not until he sees Mrs. Watts complete disregard for the spiritual, embodied by her comic turn in the preacher hat, that he feels aroused; he is excited by the truly animal simplicity of this woman, who feels no guilt at her dirtiness, existing in a state of innocence that he yearns for desperately. She is "so well-adjusted that she didn't have to think anymore", and he has struggled all his life to escape the thoughts that haunt his every step. Now, finally, he laughs at the naked Mrs. Watts, a true embodiment of the new ideal of cleanliness he preaches in the Church Without Christ – someone who feels no guilt or self-consciousness, an unapologetic servant of instinct. This is what he longs to be, and as he takes off his clothes and "barks," he takes a step closer to his animal nature at long last. 

“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 of the tent for the nameless unplaced guilt that was in him.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel experiences a flashback to his youth, when his mother punished him for having looked into a tent in the traveling circus that contained a naked woman, where he also saw his father in the audience. Although she does not know his crime, something in her senses his guilt, and the young Hazel feels this uncleanliness acutely.

The exchange between the two, as she hits his unflinching legs and tells him that "Jesus died to redeem" him, and he mutters back that he "never ast him," perfectly sums up the resentment that Hazel has been conditioned to feel toward a God who, he has been taught to believe, sees him as dirty, stupid, and fallen. He feels a debt to this God, and that debt weighs on him so that he cannot escape it. Hazel remains trapped within this "nameless unplaced guilt," placed upon him by his street preacher grandfather and pious mother, and spends years in the army attempting to escape its grip – it's this same escape attempt that brings him to Taulkinham, where he struggles desperately to deny the inner truth of his religiosity.  

Chapter 5 Quotes

He put his fingers to his forehead and then held them in front of his eyes. They were streaked with red. He turned his head and saw a drop of blood on the ground and as he looked at it, he thought it widened like a little spring. He sat straight up, frozen-skinned, and put his finger in it, and very faintly he could hear his blood beating, his secret blood, in the center of the city. Then he knew that whatever was expected of him was only just beginning.

Related Characters: Enoch Emory
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Enoch recovers after Hazel throws a rock that strikes him in the head, as the two of them flee from the museum at the center of the park that houses a shrunken mummy Enoch views as a religious idol. Enoch has gradually pushed Hazel toward this place, in response to the calling of his "wise blood," a sort of prophetic instinct that commands his actions. According to this instinct of Enoch's, Hazel has been chosen to receive the special mystery of the shrunken mummy – but when Enoch shows him, at long last, this secret idol, Hazel angrily rejects this calling. Now, injured and alone again, Enoch is exultant, seeing the world through the streaks of his literal blood. This blood seems magical, imbued with the power to create a spring in the earth.

This moment feels like an ancient ritual of sacrifice, one that might have been appreciated by the makers of the shrunken mummy, for instance. Instinct and religion blend for Enoch, who feels a deep reverence for the signs the world gives him, and a sense of destiny driven by the "secret blood" spilled in front of him now. 

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.

Chapter 7 Quotes

They climbed the hill and went down the other side of it, she a little ahead of Haze. He saw that sitting under a tree with her might help him to seduce her, but he was in no hurry to get on with it, considering her innocence. He felt it was too hard of a job to be done in an afternoon. She sat down under a large pine and patted the ground close beside her for him to sit on, but he sat about five feet away from her on a rock. He rested his chin on his knees and looked straight ahead.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes, Sabbath Lily Hawks / The Young Girl
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel and Sabbath take a walk in the countryside after Sabbath hides in the back of Hazel's car, hoping to seduce the young newcomer. Barefoot now, Sabbath runs ahead and they find a tree to sit under. This is a romantic situation, but Hazel, the social outsider, is completely oblivious to Sabbath's advances. In fact, he has decided to seduce Sabbath, for reasons of principle – that is, to prove to her father, Asa Hawks, that he is serious in his rejection of the idea of sin and religion.

Having made this decision, he fails completely to take advantage of the situation in front of him, mistaking the truth of Sabbath's intentions and seeing only the innocent idea he has of her. He is statuesque in his studied indifference, ignoring entirely her invitation to sit beside her. Clearly, entering into this animal, physical realm is not something with which he feels truly comfortable, but rather a deliberate, studied expression of his principled rejection of the spiritual. Blind to this truth about himself and the true aims of Sabbath, Hazel reveals his hazy relationship to the truth he claims to worship. 

Chapter 8 Quotes

Enoch Emery knew now that his life would never be the same again, because the thing that was going to happen to him had started to happen. He had always known that something was going to happen but he hadn’t known what. If he had been much given to thought, he might have thought that now was the time for him to justify his daddy’s blood, but he didn’t think in broad sweeps like that, he thought what he would do next. Sometimes he didn’t think, he only wondered; then before long he would find himself doing this or that, like a bird finds itself building a nest when it hasn’t actually been planning to.

Related Characters: Enoch Emory
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Enoch prepares for the destiny he feels coming inevitably toward him. His response to the beginning of this destiny reveals the extent to which he has been preparing for this moment his whole life – there is a sense in which Enoch functions as a prophet, the puppet for some divine instinct transmitted through his blood.

As a foil to Hazel, Enoch does not question this primitive religious sense of destiny. Rather than dwelling on the spiritual in an intellectual way, Enoch does not “think in broad sweeps” at all, focusing only on what is directly in front of him, with an animal’s instinct.O’Connor compares this instinct to the nest-building drive of a bird, suggesting that all of Enoch’s actions are deeply spontaneous and unplanned, but also part of a larger plan that he cannot see, but which is built into his DNA, inherited through his “daddy’s blood.”  

I ain’t going in, he said.
Two doors flew open and he found himself moving down a long red foyer and then up a darker tunnel and then a higher, still darker tunnel. In a few minutes he was up in a high part of the maw, feeling around, like Jonah, for a seat. I ain’t going to look at it, he said furiously. He didn’t like any picture shows but colored musical ones.

Related Characters: Enoch Emory
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Enoch is wandering the town, attempting to avoid the call of his “wise blood,” but finds himself inevitably drawn by its command into a movie theater he had stubbornly hoped to escape. Here, O’Connor makes an explicit comparison between Enoch and a famous Old Testament prophet, Jonah, transforming the movie theater into the belly of the whale with a gaping ‘maw,’ or mouth. Jonah, too, had tried to escape his destiny by denying God’s call, but was duly punished by a storm that forced him to jump into the sea, where the whale swallowed him. In his inner dialogue, Enoch repeatedly denies the impulse of his “wise blood,” his frustration mounting as instinct continues to overcome his will to deny it.

O’Connor’s prose removes the decision-making from Enoch’s power – the doors to the cinema “flew open,” seemingly without his active participation, and he “found himself moving.” He is almost unconscious of the actions of his body, completely out of control of his instinct-driven choices.  

Chapter 9 Quotes

Haze stayed in his car about an hour and had a bad experience in it: he dreamed he was not dead but only buried. He was not waiting on the Judgment because there was no Judgment, he was waiting on nothing. Various eyes looked through the back oval window at his situation, some with considerable reverence, like the boy from the zoo, and some only to see what they could see… Then a woman with two little boys on either side of her stopped and looked in, grinning. After a second, she pushed the boys out of view and indicated that she would climb in and keep him company for a while, but she couldn’t get through the glass and finally she went off.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes, Enoch Emory, The Woman (with the two little boys)
Related Symbols: Hazel’s Car, Coffins
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel falls asleep in his car and has a nightmare that centers on the final Judgment and the judging eyes of those around him. At the beginning of his nightmare, he is trapped in a coffin, an old fear that has haunted him since, as a young boy, he watched most of his family being buried, one by one. In this nightmare there is no Judgment, and this lack of Judgment seems to strike Hazel not as a sign of his freedom from sin, but rather as an invitation to infinite limbo, trapped forever with no hope of escape.

The eyes that look into his coffin, who may also be peering into the car where he sleeps, represent the many townspeople who view Hazel as an eccentric outsider – people with whom Hazel has tried and failed to form any connection. Enoch is mentioned, but only as "the boy from the zoo," revealing Hazel's casual attitude toward him. By directing Enoch's reverent gaze at Hazel behind the glass of his car window, O'Connor suggests that Hazel should be identified in some way with the small, shrunken mummy in the glass case of the museum. Hazel is on display, an oddity from a bygone era, not at home in the modern world – a vessel of spiritual power that is misunderstood and under appreciated. The woman with two boys, though, appreciates what he has to offer, in a lewd sense, desperate for an animal connection that frightens him most of all. 

Chapter 10 Quotes

“Who is that that says it’s your conscience?” he cried, looking around with a constricted face as if he could smell the particular person who thought that. “Your conscience is a trick,” he said, “it don’t exist though you may think it does, and if you think it does, you had best get it out in the open and hunt it down and kill it, because it’s no more than your face in the mirror is or your shadow behind you.”

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker)
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel preaches to the few people who stand and watch him, denying the existence of a conscience. He wants desperately to escape the influence of his own conscience, instilled by his religious upbringing, which led him to see sin as a deep stain that could never be removed except by the blood of a nightmarish Christ. Ironically, no one in the town of Taulkinham seems at all bothered by matters of conscience, aside from Hazel himself; nearly all of the townspeople he encounters follow an un-self-conscious, instinctive lifestyle that never dwells in the dark guilt that Hazel cannot help but feel, even as he preaches against it so intensely. The locals, by contrast, deceive easily and consume lustfully with no qualms whatsoever. 

There is also a foreshadowing of Solace Layfield in these words, the man whom Hoover Shoats hires as Hazel's impersonator. Layfield becomes like a "face in the mirror" or a shadow to Hazel, showing him the faults and self-deceptions he refuses to see otherwise until, finally, Hazel makes the decision to run him down, destroying his double in an unsuccessful attempt to kill his own conscience. 

Then he slid his legs under the cover by her and sat there as if he were waiting to remember one more thing. She was breathing very quickly. “Take off your hat, king of the beasts,” she said gruffly and her hand came up behind his head and snatched the hat off and sent it flying across the room in the dark.

Related Characters: Sabbath Lily Hawks / The Young Girl (speaker), Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Related Symbols: Hazel’s Hat
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel finally gives in to Sabbath's sexual advances, after escaping them first with obliviousness, and then conscious resistance. Sabbath is persistent in her desire for Hazel, as she chooses him as a replacement for her father, Asa, who is leaving soon.

Hazel resists, still, subconsciously, even after having made the decision to get in bed with Sabbath. He proceeds slowly, step by step, as she waits with impatience, and is distant and controlled, in direct contrast to her heavy breathing. This sort of passionate behavior is not natural to him, and he has to force himself to betray his spiritual nature to follow the animal instinct he has claimed to believe in. He succeeded, once, with Mrs. Watts, but quickly realized it was not a sustainable choice. Now he has been worn down, and is surrendering again in an effort to sustain his belief that sin cannot exist. When she removes his hat, the last part of his clothing left, Sabbath removes a symbol of the spiritual and reveals the animal, hailing him as "king of the beasts." This is what Sabbath wants – to teach Hazel how to follow his instincts without guilt – but it is clearly still a struggle for him to reach that point. 

Chapter 11 Quotes

The child in front of him finished and stepped aside and left him facing the ape, who took his hand with an automatic motion. It was the first hand that had been extended to Enoch since he had come to the city. It was warm and soft. For a second he only stood there, clasping it. Then he began to stammer. “My name is Enoch Emery,” he mumbled…
The star leaned slightly forward and a change came in his eyes: an ugly pair of human ones moved closer and squinted at Enoch from behind the celluloid pair. “You go to hell,” a surly voice inside the ape-suit said, low but distinctly, and the hand was jerked away.

Related Characters: Enoch Emory (speaker), Gonga the Gorilla (speaker)
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Enoch waits in line to meet Gonga the Gorilla, an experience he sees as his divine reward for having followed his wise blood's commands so far. He plans to insult Gonga, an idea that gives him great pleasure – but when he feels the warm hand extended toward him, the first he has felt since arriving in Taulkinham, his loneliness takes over, and he decides to make a friend instead. Enoch's quest for connection reaches a climax here, then, as he reaches out to Gonga and is rejected by the man behind the mask, who tells him to "go to hell."

The man's ugly eyes emerge from the depths of the ape suit, which seems to have convinced Enoch he was speaking with a real ape until this very moment; Enoch feels real fear while waiting in line, taken in by the illusion just as much as the small children who wait with him. The revelation that Gonga is a man shocks Enoch, who reels at the collapse of a lie he has believed all this time. He vows revenge, having suffered the deepest rejection possible. 

The entire possibility of this came from the advantage of having a car—of having something that moved fast, in privacy, to the place you wanted to be. He looked out the window at the Essex. It sat high and square in the pouring rain. He didn’t notice the rain, only the car; if asked he would not have been able to say it was raining.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Related Symbols: Hazel’s Car
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel clings to the hope of escape from destiny that his car represents, at the moment when he feels most trapped, having begun his relationship with Sabbath Hawks. He is desperate to leave this place, this town, where he has only ended up circling closer to the religious destiny he had hoped to avoid. This desperate hope fills his whole mind, blocking out even any awareness he has of the rain pouring just outside. 

Hazel's car is a symbol of free will, and he sees it as a beautiful, precious vehicle capable of anything – in spite of the many voices that speak to the contrary, pointing out that it is in reality a cheap, broken-down, ugly clunker that is lucky to move at all. He is blinded by what it represents, by his desperation, and still unable to see that in fact both the car, and any notion of escape or free will, are doomed to fail. 

“I knew when I first seen you you were mean and evil,” a furious voice behind him said. “ I seen you wouldn’t let nobody have nothing. I seen you were mean enough to slam a baby against a wall. I seen you wouldn’t never have no fun or let anybody else because you didn’t want nothing but Jesus!”
He turned and raised his arm in a vicious gesture, almost losing his balance in the door. Drops of rain water were splattered over the front of the glasses and on his red face and here and there they hung sparkling from the brim of his hat. “I don’t want nothing but the truth!” he shouted, “and what you see is the truth and I’ve seen it!”

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker), Sabbath Lily Hawks / The Young Girl (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, a dramatic confrontation between Hazel and Sabbath erupts when, after their first night together, she finds the shrunken mummy that Enoch has stolen from the park's museum and brings it to him, cradling it like the Madonna with Child. Hazel had been preparing his escape, gazing longingly at his car, when she entered the room, and he slammed the small figure against the wall in his rage. He feels trapped, desperate to escape the destiny crashing down around him, and Sabbath finds just the right words to stoke his greatest fear; by telling him that she knew as soon as they met that he would "never have no fun" because he "didn't want nothing but Jesus," she confirms that all of this work he has done to distance himself from his spiritual destiny is false and futile. 

Hazel, isolating himself again from any human connection, rejects her diagnosis of his inner desire for Jesus, and turns instead toward the truth as his ultimate goal. He is more deeply moved here than we have ever seen him, clinging to the truth as an excuse while remaining oblivious to the truth of the real world around him, nearly falling out the open door onto the wet ground below. 

Chapter 12 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Enoch Emory
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Enoch strolls through the woods in Gonga's gorilla costume, having murdered its previous occupant and buried his own clothing. He has been completely transfigured into an animal – arguably, the state to which he has always felt most drawn. For Enoch, this transformation is a moment of perfect, religious joy, the completion of a quest to find his destiny that led him down many unexpected paths, as he followed the command of his wise blood, driven by instinct to this new form. He is perfectly happy in this moment, having achieved religious perfection in a way opposite to the intellectual, guilt-ridden, spiritual path walked so laboriously by Hazel Motes.

By comparing Enoch, as a gorilla, to other gorillas in "the jungles of Africa or California, or in New York City in the finest apartment in the world," O'Connor is taking on the somewhat childish, and perhaps even mentally deranged perspective of Enoch, using his inability to distinguish between man and gorilla as a surprisingly effective means of questioning the actual difference between the two. 

Chapter 13 Quotes

“You shut up,” Haze said, leaning his head closer to hear the confession.
“Told where his still was and got five dollars for it,” the man gasped.
“You shut up now,” Haze said.
“Jesus…” the man said.
“Shut up like I told you to now,” Haze said.
“Jesus hep me,” the man wheezed.
Haze gave him a hard slap on the back and he was quiet. He leaned down to hear if he was going to say anything else but he wasn’t breathing any more.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes (speaker), Solace Layfield (speaker)
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Haze kneels over the dying Solace Layfield, the man hired by Hoover Shoats to impersonate him, after having run Solace down with his car. Even after having committed murder, in a new attempt to refuse the calling of his soul and reject the truth about his destiny that seeing Layfield made all too obvious for him, Hazel is thrust as ever against his will into the role of a preacher, forced to hear the dying man's confession.

Full of contradiction still, though, Hazel leans in to hear what Layfield has to say even as he warns him to shut up. Hazel has rejected the whole concept of confession, based in ideas of sin and redemption that he associates with the horrible, haunting guilt of his childhood. But now, faced with the dying Layfield, he cannot help but perform his natural role as a confessor. This continues until, anticlimactically, Hazel ushers the pitiful Layfield into death with a hard slap on the back, stopping his mouth once and for all. 

Haze followed him around, telling him what it was right to believe. He said it was not right to believe anything you couldn’t see or hold in your hands or test with your teeth. He said he had only a few days ago believed in blasphemy as the way to salvation, but that you couldn’t even believe in that because then you were believing in something to blaspheme. As for the Jesus who was reported to have been born at Bethlehem and crucified on Calvary for man’s sins, Haze said, He was too foul a notion for a sane person to carry in his head… he began to curse and blaspheme Jesus in a quiet but intense way but with such conviction that the boy paused from his work to listen.

Related Characters: Hazel ‘Haze’ Motes
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Hazel berates the gas station attendant with his usual tirade on the nonexistence of Christ, but with his angry speech only continues to emphasize the depth of those beliefs he wants desperately to escape. Totally unprompted by the attendant, Hazel launches into his monologue about truth and religion, but his obsessive denial of Christianity has begun to collapse on itself. He has begun to realize, in just the last few days, that blasphemy cannot be the way to the salvation because you can't believe in blasphemy without "believing in something to blaspheme."

Hazel almost seems, in this moment, to be taking a step toward self-awareness, realizing that the truth of his crusade against religion is actually an obsession with redemption and sin, that in attempting to run away from his destiny he only circles back around from the other side. This self-awareness vanishes, though, as, just after warning the boy against blasphemy, Hazel begins to blaspheme with such intensity that the boy pauses in his work to listen. Hazel is incapable of recognizing the hypocrisy of his speech, even as he turns from one argument to another in the course of a single tirade. 

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.

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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