Wise Blood

Wise Blood Imagery

Signs in Taulkinham

When Hazel arrives in Taulkinham for the first time, he is overwhelmed by the crazy electric urban panoply that confronts him on the streets: "When he got to Taulkinham, as soon as he stepped off the train, he began to see signs and lights. PEANUTS, WESTERN UNION, AJAX, TAXI, HOTEL, CANDY. Most of them were electric and moved up and down or blinked frantically." (25) As a person for whom sight is of the highest importance, such an excess is a jarring and alienating experience.

Urban light versus natural light

When Hazel preaches his Church Without Christ at a movie theater for the first time, the passage notes that the lights around the theater are so bright that they outshine the moon. Considering the importance of light and sight in this novel, this simply stated detail represents one of many examples of how the secular world conceals the religious, which in fact hangs over and lies under the former. We might also read this description as something that Hazel, and only Hazel, notices, because his powerful sight allows him to see such crucial details that escape most people in the city.

The open highway

Despite the importance that Hazel attaches to his car and the ability it gives him to travel wherever he wants, he is trapped in the city of Taulkinham for nearly the entire novel; in the end when he tries to drive away from it, he is denied the open road when his car is unceremoniously pushed off a cliff by a policeman. Therefore, though not an image that receives much explicit presentation, the open road that stretches on to many other cities and more and more roads over the American continent is a negative image in Hazel's mind that gives him a sense of a freedom - though a mistaken sense.

Enoch the gorilla

After Enoch puts on the gorilla costume that he stole, he becomes described as though he had really become a gorilla. All his previously existing animal characteristics come out in the open and for a few ecstatic moments define him, as he had wished; but this ends up driving others away and leaving him a parody of what he had hoped to become, neither animal nor human, but simply disappointed and alone.