Wise Blood showcases the flaws of organized religion as seen by the author, Flannery O’Connor, via the story of the anti-religious protagonist and representative of society, Hazel Motes, and his road to redemption. The author makes sharp commentary on the concept of atheism by setting up the idea that christ is a matter of life or death. The novel is used as a proclamation of faith as well as an analysis of american society.. The novel reflects the society, both religious and nonreligious, of the time that it is set in; this reflection allows O’Connor to emphasize both her own and her faith’s opinions of the world that surrounded her post World War II.
America was changed greatly by the events of the war in the 1940s; these changes are mirrored in the characters of the story. Hazel Motes, the protagonist, is a veteran of World War II who comes back to America with shrapnel in his shoulder and a sheer sense of disbelief filling his mind. He is a soldier which represents the nearly four million americans who were enlisted at the time (Beckam). Nearly every man in America was a soldier in the time of the novel therefore O’Connor uses a basis in military within her protagonist to better illustrate the society of the time.
Hazel Motes is not just a soldier; he is a wounded soldier, which is perhaps the most important aspect of his character. He comes home with injuries both visible and invisible. For the visible aspect of his injury, Hazel Motes comes home with shrapnel left in his shoulder and the scars from the wound. This physical wound mirrors the 960,000 American soldiers that were wounded or killed in World War II. This physical wound is also accompanied by a wound below the surface.
World War II took a huge toll on society and thus consumed nearly every aspect of life. This consumption is shown in Hazel Mote’s lack of control of his own mind upon return to the United States. Hazel was often driven to madness by the thoughts that constantly streamed through his mind. He is bothered by the images that present themselves while he attempts rest in the back of his car (O’Connor 160). This consumption is also a commentary on a pressing issue of the time.
The mental irregularities of Hazel Motes as explained by Flannery O’Connor are symptomatic of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Although PTSD was not formally diagnosed until 1980, nearly forty years after the novel was published, it was a major issue in America post World War II (Friedman). Many soldiers from World War II and any war prior often came back with problems that could not yet be diagnosed— the main of which being Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Flannery O’Connor uses Hazel Mote’s invisible troubles to represent the wounded veterans of the time and shed light on a problem that was otherwise kept in the dark.
Hazel also represents the moral and religious movements of the time with his thoughts and actions. Mr. Motes was born to a family of preachers and...