Hazel’s broken-down car, purchased for forty dollars, is an important symbol in the novel. On the one hand, it represents home, a place that Hazel can call his own—when he is most frustrated by those around him, he always attempts to escape to his car. On the other, it represents free will, since the mobility that it provides (when it works) offers Hazel the freedom to go wherever he chooses. As he tries to escape his religious destiny, this ever-faulty vehicle of his free will represents the unsuccessful attempts he makes to avoid that destiny, and its ultimate destruction prompts his collapse into repentance. The fact that the car becomes the weapon in Hazel’s murder of Onnie Jay Holy’s hired imposter also suggests that it wasn’t fate that drove Hazel to kill—it was his own free will.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Hazel’s Car appears in Wise Blood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...two good feet. Hazel remembers his grandfather, shouting to the assembled crowd from atop his car. His grandfather would single out Hazel, who resembled him, in the crowd, and ask everyone... (full context)
...in Detroit, using a common slur for African-Americans, as Hazel offers thirty dollars for the car. Hazel kicks the tire, and they settle on fifty. Before they leave the lot, Slade... (full context)
...transformed Onnie (who now reveals his real name, Hoover Shoats), and tries to close the car door around his head. Frustrated, Hazel slams the door, catching Shoats’ thumb. Shoats howls in... (full context)
...thirty-five cents. Three dollars go to the “Prophet” for his services and use of his car. The impostor’s name is Solace Layfield, and he has consumption and six children. He never... (full context)