Wise Blood

Law and Ethics in Wise Blood College

Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood addresses the laws and ethics of 20th Century America. Laws and ethics may seem to correlate, but Wise Blood shows that such is not always the case. Laws may claim to have ethical origins and serve ethical purposes, but Wise Blood shows otherwise. The conflict between law and ethics can be seen during Hazel Motes interaction with the police officer and the non-ethical origins of laws can be seen within the bathroom Motes uses after stepping off the train. The police officer represents the disconnect between what the law says and how the law is enforced; the bathroom shows the unethical basis of some laws. As a whole, Wise Blood shows the relationship, or lack-thereof, between law and ethics.

Laws and ethics first conflict early in the novel when Hazel Motes is confronted by a police officer. Motes begins crossing a busy street but the police officer stops him and chastises him for jaywalking. Within this interaction between Motes, a regular citizen, and the police officer, a representative of the law, one can see how a person’s ethics are not always reflective of governing laws. The police officer claims to protect all races and genders equally, yet from his behavior and vocabulary suggest that he...

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