In the novel Wiseblood, by Flannery O'Connor, one finds an unpleasant, almost antagonistic view of sexuality. The author seems to regard sex as an evil, and harps on this theme throughout the novel. Each sexual incident which occurs in the novel is tainted with grotesquem. Different levels of the darker side of sexuality are exposed, from perversion to flagrant displays of nudity. It serves to give the novel a bit of a moralistic overtone.
The "Carnival Episode" illustrated Hazel's first experience with sexuality. The author depicts an incident surrounded by an aura of sinfulness. Indeed, the show's promoter claims that it is "SINsational." In his anxiousness to view the sideshow, Haze resorted to lying about his age. He was that eager to see it. When he enters the tent, Haze observes the body of an obese naked woman squirming in a casket lined with black cloth. He leaves the scene quickly.
This first bout with sexuality was certainly a grotesque one, and one which, perhaps, helped fortify his resolve not to experiment with sex for years to come. Haze reacted to the incident on different levels. Before watching the "show," he was filled with curiosity. So badly he wanted to view this "EXclusive" show. After glancing at the body, he first thought that it was a skinned animal. When he realized what it was, he at once left the tent, ashamed, and perhaps frightened of the object before his eyes.
Hazel's reaction was not unnatural. The sight with which he was confronted would invoke both fear and embarrassment within most ten-year-olds. Not only was the body nude, but it was inside a casket as well. The author parallels this vulgar d...
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...inful, for it is wrong.
Through the depiction of Mrs. Leora Watts and Hazel's first sexual encounter, it is more than evident that the novel treats the subject of sexuality in a distasteful manner. Leora Watts is the physical manifestation of the author's disdain for sexuality and prostitution. She is both repulsive and grotesque. Sexuality is treated as an ugly thing, and sex for pleasure is seen as immoral.
In the novel Wiseblood, the reader is confronted with an antagonistic and adverse view of sexuality. The novel represents sex as an evil, one which encourages the basest forms of human behavior. Through individuals like Leora Watts and Enoch Emery, the author depicts people whom have reached the depths of perversion and the grotesque.
O'Connor, Flannery. Wise Blood. Three by Flannery O'Connor. New York: Signet, 1962.