Flannery O’Connor’s Hazel Motes as Sacred Rhetorician




Fehler, Brian

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Center for the Study of Christian Values in Literature: Brigham Young University


Hazel Motes, a peculiar character even among Flannery O'Connor's cast of eccentric characters, stands out among the rest because of his extreme introspection. Many O'Connor characters are alike in their desire to flaunt their odd but cherished attitudes and behaviors. But Hazel represents something else. He is a young man recently returned from war, yet his psychological peculiarities seem to have preceded that war. While Hazel, one may imagine, did not appear as an average soldier, he seems nevertheless not to have acquired any more scars in the war than he did anywhere else in his life. No, the "haunting" of Hazel Motes comes from something else (Seel 68), from, as O'Connor writes in the preface to the tenth-anniversary edition of Wise Blood (1949), "the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of his mind" ("Author's" 1265). Strangely enough, this "ragged figure" seems to push Hazel toward the city, toward spectacle-filled, circus-like Taulkinham, a city where there seems to be a place for anyone and anything- anyone except Hazel, that is.


Article originally published in Literature and Belief, 34, 1–18. English. Published 2016
Permission to deposit this file has been obtained directly from the publisher. Please read the faculty member's entry in the Project INDEX Master Sheet for more information about the publisher communications.


Consumerism, Religious rhetoric, Wise Blood


This is the published version of an article that is not available online. Recommended citation: Fehler, B. (2016). Flannery O’Connor’s Hazel Motes as Sacred Rhetorician. Literature and Belief, 34, 1–18. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.