As the novel’s title suggest, blood plays an important role in Wise Blood. Like O’Connor’s other symbols, its significance is split. On the one hand, Hazel often asks those around him about the redemptive blood of Jesus, and where it can be found in the real world. This blood represents the ideas of sin and salvation that he rejects. For Enoch, on the other hand, blood represents the instinctual voice that drives him forward. He has “wise blood,” inherited from his father – and in some ways Hazel’s strange ways seem inherited as well, from the blood of his mother and grandfather. This wise blood takes over Enoch’s free will, pushing him to do things he despises.
Blood Quotes in Wise Blood
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.
“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.