Thursday, September 1, 2011

On "A View of the Woods"

"A View of the Woods" by Flannery O'Connor is perfectly typical for that author's style. The loved child, defiant - subtle but certain proof that the world is not aligned the way it should be, that this world is tainted with injustice fashioned by God for sins a life has worked itself against and, unknowingly, for.

Some have commented on a reflexive Oedipal-Elektra complex between the old man and the girl. ( It doesn't strike me as something intentional. This kind of relationship is reminiscent of the one between Francis Marion Tarwater and his great uncle in The Violent Bear it Away, O'Connor's great second and final novel. It is not about sex but about old and new, the past and the future's death grip on the present. I would contend that this is the same dynamic we find in "Woods." The blog above also mentions things such as how the natural world in the story is described in human terms, while people are done so in those more animalistic. The businessman's serpentine features fit cleanly into O'Connor's Christian ethos, and the clay motif also instills in the story a realism you can almost smell.

The ending is quintessential O'Connor, the imagery vague and haunting, recalling O'Connor's story "The River" and, to a lesser degree for me, "The Turkey." When I read "Woods" it did not matter to me the actual fate of the girl at the end. The author's deft craft conveys what the reader needs to know, that she has crossed to the other side, has left this world, entirely -- tainted and scarred as it is -- all chances for redemption, but Fortune's dream.

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