๐Ÿ“š The Violent Bear It Away (Flannery O’Connor)

Read The Violent Bear It Away

The Violent Bear It Away is a 1960 novel by American author Flannery O’Connor. It is the second and final novel that she published. The first chapter was originally published as the story “You Can’t Be Any Poorer Than Dead” in the journal New World Writing.[1] The novel tells the story of Francis Marion Tarwater, a fourteen-year-old boy who is trying to escape the destiny his uncle has prescribed for him: the life of a prophet. Like most of O’Connor’s stories, the novel is filled with Catholic themes and dark images, making it a classic example of Southern Gothic literature.

There was something haunting about The Violent Bears It Away. Whether it be the characters or their fractured experiences, things always feel incomplete, both sad and unresolved.

What exactly does it mean to say that human beings are made โ€œin the image and likeness of Godโ€? Three answers have dominated Western theological ethicsโ€”imago Dei as reason, as will, and as loveโ€”and Flannery Oโ€™Connorโ€™s second novel explores each of these from the inside, as it were, through its portrayal of the distinctive lifeworlds inhabited by three of the novelโ€™s major characters: George Rayber, Francis Marion Tarwater, and the boy Bishop.

Source: Only Love Overcomes Violence: “The Violent Bear It Away” as Case Studies in Theological Ethics by Scott Huelin

In some respect, I was reminded of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Yes, both novels end in some sort of resolution, but it never quite satisfies all that is wrong in the world.

I feel that this is probably one of those books that I could come back to as something of a meditation. I did try diving into some of the commentary, but realised there was a whole different layer that would be a study in itself. It does make me want to read more from Thomas Aquinas.

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