Friday’s Flannery is an occasional series of commentary from a Catholic point of view on the short stories of Flannery O’Connor.
In her last work, completed shortly before her death, Flannery O’Connor depicts the great clash of the two principles of Creation: the Spirit and the Flesh and their only resolution in the Incarnation represented by an icon.
Sarah Ruth is the epitome of the iconoclastic tendencies of a puritanical Calvinism. She negates the body, pleasure, the material, and every attempt to represent God who is as she says, “pure spirit.” Preoccupied with the wrath of God on Judgment Day, she is a cold and fearsome character–lean, gaunt, colorless, with piercing eyes:
“She was plain, plain. And the skin on her face was thin and drawn tight like the skin on an onion and her eyes were gray and sharp like the points of two ice picks.”
Parker, on the other hand, is a man of the flesh, made graphic in his pursuit of body art. He is a man of lust attracted to women with plenty of meat on them. He is a denier of God and seeks to live fully in the material world.
There are forces stirring in Parker. The twin forces of wonder and sacrifice began with seeing the tattooed man at the circus and the day of his first tattoo: Read the rest of this entry »