Wise Blood

Unavoidable Destiny: Flannery O’Connor’s Southern Adaptation of Oedipus Rex College

Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood is a powerfully unsettling novel concerning a lost man
in the grotesque, dark world of the American South. Published in 1949, Wise Blood’s protagonist
Hazel Motes serves as a reflection of the power of mythology that continues to assert itself in
O’Connor’s text. Throughout the course of the novel, Hazel Motes’s character aids Wise Blood in
becoming a southern adaptation of one of classical literature’s most memorable stories-- that of
Oedipus the King. Although some aspects of the novel are strictly evident of the impact of
twentieth century southern culture on one’s religious identity, Wise Blood effectively mirrors the
plight of destiny that is equally present Sophocles's Theban Cycle, written and performed more
than two thousand years prior. Understanding Oedipus’s oblivion and subsequent tragic
fulfillment of prophecy is immensely helpful in the analysis of Hazel Motes as a man struggling
with faith in the darkness and distortion of religion in the American South.

From the onset of the account the reader receives concerning Hazel Motes’ birth and the
circumstances of his childhood, one can quickly draw parallels between the start of his own life
and that of tragic Oedipus. The circumstances...

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