Wise Blood

Wise Blood Literary Elements


Southern Gothic

Setting and Context

Taulkinham, Tennesee around 1940s and 1950s.

Narrator and Point of View

Omniscient, third-person narrator, mostly from the points of view of Hazel Motes, Enoch Emery, and Mrs. Flood.

Tone and Mood

Intense and grotesque.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Hazel Motes. Antagonist: Hoover Shoats.

Major Conflict

Hazel is trying to run away from his own religiosity, as symbolized by the Jesus chasing him in his mind, while refusing the accept the secularism of the city.


Hazel runs over Solace Layfield, his imposter.


Numerous examples, such as the way that Enoch's irrational fear that Hazel was being chased by the police for stealing his car (though it was not stolen) was eventually realized by the policeman arbitrarily ramming Hazel's car off the road.


After Hazel blinds himself, Mrs. Flood simply takes interest in him as though nothing particularly crazy has happened.


The sequence beginning with Enoch's giving the mummy to Hazel and Sabbath is a parody of the story of the birth of Christ.


Taulkinham at night is described as a place filled with manic energy and glaring neon signs.


Hazel's Church without Christ rests on a highly paradoxical absence of faith in faith that turns out to be the most genuine faith.


Whereas Hazel is trying to run from God, Enoch is trying to fulfill his wise blood.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

Hazel's hat acts as a kind of synecdoche for his whole preacher's demeanor.


The one-eyed owl that stares back at Hazel in the zoo confronts him as though it were one of the city people with an alienating look.