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.
planned to kidnap the child and keep him long enough to baptize him and instruct him in the facts of his Redemption and he mapped out his plan to the last detail and carried it out exactly. Tarwater liked this part best because in spite of himself he had to admire his uncle’s craft. The old man had persuaded Buford Munson to send his daughter in to get a job cooking for the sister and with the girl once in the house, he had been able to find out what he needed to know. He learned that there were
like two fish straining to get out of a net of red threads. He had on a putty-colored hat with the brim turned up all around and over his undershirt a grey coat that had once been black. Tarwater, sitting across the table from him, saw red ropes appear in his face and a tremor pass over him. It was like the tremor of a quake that had begun at his heart and run outward and was just reaching the surface. His mouth twisted down sharply on one side and he remained exactly as he was, perfectly
his meals were valued at—the boy never asked the price. He was a finicky eater, pushing the food around on his plate before he ate it and putting each forkful in his mouth as if he suspected it was poisoned. He had pushed the ravioli about, his face drawn. He ate a little of it and then put the fork down. “Don’t you like that?” Rayber had asked. “You can have something else if you don’t.” “It all come out the same slop bucket,” the boy said. “Bishop is eating his,” Rayber said. Bishop had it
key and started up a rickety flight of steps to the left. Hallway up, he paused and said in a voice in which there was a remnant of authority, “Bring up that bag when you come, Frank.” The boy was finishing his essay on the card and gave no indication of hearing. The woman’s curious gaze followed Rayber up the stairs until he disappeared. She observed as his feet passed the level of her head that he had on one brown sock and one grey. His shoes were not run-down but he might have slept in his
still not found them. He tried to think of what the schoolteacher would have said to her but no words of his uncle’s would rise to his mind. The sun was behind him now and his thirst had reached the point where it could not get worse. The inside of his throat felt as if it were coated with burning sand. He moved on doggedly. No cars were passing. He made up his mind that he would flag the next car that passed. He hungered now for companionship as much as food and water. He wanted to explain to