The Violent Bear It Away: A Novel (FSG Classics)
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A brilliant, innovative novel, acutely alert to where the sacred lives―and where it does not
First published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is a landmark in American literature―a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Connor's work.
In this, O'Connor's second novel, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle that Tarwater will become a prophet and baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues, as Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more "reasonable" modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relative and lay claim to Bishop's soul. All this is observed by O'Connor with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos.
automobile? Jesus, they wouldn’t have been near so glad they were Redeemed if they hadn’t had that liquor in them. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to my Redemption if I was you. Some people take everything too hard. Tarwater drank more slowly. He had been drunk only one time before and that time his uncle had beat him with a piece of crate for it, saying liquor would dissolve a child’s gut, another of his lies because his gut had not dissolved. It should be clear to you, his kind friend said,
how all your life you been tricked by that old man. You could have been a city slicker for the last fourteen years. Instead, you been deprived of any company but his, you been living in a two-story barn in the middle of this earth’s bald patch, following behind a mule and plow since you were seven. And how do you know the education he give you is true to the facts? Maybe he taught you a system of figures no-body else uses? How do you know that two added to two makes four? Four added to four makes
thousand suns in a peacock’s tail will do for His sash. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She’ll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening.” To Rayber she was like one of those birds blinded to make it sing more sweetly. Her voice had the tone of a glass bell. His pity encompassed all exploited children—himself when he was a child, Tarwater exploited by the old man, this child exploited by
one—is born with a heart outside?” “You’d better try,” the doctor had said. Tarwater walked slightly behind him and Rayber did not cast a glance back at him. His fury seemed to be stirring from buried depths that had lain quiet for years and to be working upward, closer and closer, toward the slender roots of his peace. When they reached the house he went in and straight to his bed without turning to look at the boy’s white face which, drained but expectant, lingered a moment at the threshold
simply to face it and fight it, to cut down the weed every time you see it appear. Do I have to tell you this? An intelligent boy like you?” “You don’t have to tell me nothing,” Tarwater murmured. “I don’t have a compulsion to baptize him,” Rayber said. “My own is more complicated, but the principle is the same. The way we have to fight it is the same.” “It ain’t the same,” Tarwater said. He turned toward his uncle. The glint had reappeared. “I can pull it up by the roots, once and for all. I