The Doubles Motif in Flannery O’Connor's The Violent Bear It Away

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The Doubles Motif in Flannery O’Connor's The Violent Bear It Away In The Violent Bear It Away, Flannery O’Connor makes use of the doubles motif. The doubles motif occurs when one character looks at another character and sees or senses yet another character’s presence. In this novel, Francis and Rayber not only serve as doubles for each other but also as a double for Mason. Francis makes Mason Tarwater’s presence felt by the way he talks and the fact that he, like Mason, never removes his cap. After Francis is with Rayber a few days, Rayber feels Mason’s presence. “Rayber had never, even when Old Tarwater had lived under his roof, been so conscious of the old man’s presence” (189). Mason used baptism to gain control of Francis and to have him carry out his mission after his death. “Using baptism to extend his boundaries of self like a wall around Young Tarwater, Mason simultaneously performs an act of regeneration and murder to be repeated later when Francis baptizes/murders Bishop. Francis then becomes Mason’s immortal self. Francis provides Mason with a sense of existing, but he can only tolerate the boy as a double, not as an independent human being” (Paulson 102). Mason clings to the idea of being a prophet and Francis “clings to the idea of being born in a wreck, with no father, an orphan, because this makes him unique, gaining epic proportions in order to transcend the anonymous crowd” (Paulson 106). Francis denies the father the way that Mason and Rayber deny the mother. Rayber tries, as Mason does, to implant his ideas within Francis. “Both Rayber and Mason direct the explosive force of their actions toward Francis, being lost themselves. Their struggle to survive decimates their nephew” (Paulson 106). Rayber condemned the violent act that Mason committed, taking Francis and Rayber both away from reality, but Rayber committed the violent act of trying to drown his own son. Rayber and Mason both use Francis and Bishop as a way to keep the loneliness away. “O’Connor, though, draws a parallel between them by making both men evangelical zealots” (Paulson 102). Rayber is skeptical of religion and Mason has a religious fervor. Rayber and Mason both try to teach Francis but they do not want to teach him the same things. “It soon becomes clear that not only Rayber’s efforts at ‘reconstruction’ but also Mason’s muddied baptismal waters threaten the freedom of Francis, who weakly perceives the devil prophet within them both” (Paulman 103).

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