Parker Back Essay

Essay about Symbolism Anaylsis Parker's Back

1291 Words6 Pages

Life is not something simple as we often prefer. There are many different approaches and in most instances we will not find the desired fulfillment in any of them. In the short story “Parkers Back” written by Flannery O’Connor we have a multi-faceted view into the life of the primary character O.E. Parker. In addition we see into the life of Sarah Ruth, Parker’s wife and possibly into the life of author Flannery O’Connor, who died shortly after completing this short story. The characters in this story deal with Tattoos from totally different perspectives and get completely different results. Tattoos are the focal point of the story and prominent on many occasions. Without purpose in life people often make bad decisions which impact the…show more content…

It appears he is trying to hide behind all the tattoos so no one will focus on him. They are like battle scars to him and he knows the story of each in exacting detail even though they have no significant meaning to any other person. Parker is very frustrated because of his wife’s inability or unwillingness to see him as he sees himself. He is continually running away from his problems with the final destination being a Tattoo parlor and some more liquor to help wash his problems away. His wife finds the tattoos disgusting and doesn’t even want to see his body in the light because of them. He struggles to understand why she dislikes them and even wonders why she married him. How many times do we want the world to see us through our eyes instead of viewing and accepting actuality? Parker’s struggles in life never lead him to peace. Any relief he receives is for only a brief period. He is always trying to discover another way to please his wife and always makes the wrong decision. The accident on the tractor should have been a wakeup call to him. He came very close to losing his life. He was tried by fire as the tractor overturned and burned, catching the tree on fire also. He lay on the ground with his shoes on fire but again made a bad decision. His decision would carry him farther away from where he should be and increase the division between him and Sarah Ruth.
Sarah Ruth, his wife, at the same time, is struggling with her own set of

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Obadiah Elihue is, as his biblical name suggests, a kind of prophet, mysteriously driven to bear the truth to his stubborn wife, Sarah Ruth. While he fails in his mission, he nevertheless discovers that the direction of his own life has been changed significantly.

Flannery O’Connor was a devout Catholic, whose religious faith consciously informed her fiction. The difficulty of her work, she once explained in a letter, is that many of her readers do not understand the redemptive quality of “grace,” and, she added, “don’t recognize it when they see it. All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless, brutal.”

In O’Connor’s mind, Parker is an unwilling agent of spiritual “grace” who cannot understand what is happening to him until he is beaten and rejected by his wife. Sarah Ruth, not Parker, is the “heretic,” O’Connor explained in another letter, for Sarah Ruth holds “the notion that you can worship in pure spirit.” By refusing to see anything redemptive in Parker, or in his instinctive motivation to “please” her, Sarah Ruth is, in effect, doing nothing less than battering the face of God, embodied in the flesh of Parker.

Parker is clearly likened to other familiar prophets, Moses and Jonah. Like Moses, who encountered God in a burning bush and was ordered to remove his shoes, Parker is impelled to carry a message to an unreceptive audience; like Jonah, he seeks to evade his responsibility. He has not “gone and got religion”; rather, it has come and got him—first, through his instincts and his impulsive actions, and finally, through the all-demanding eyes of Christ at his back. By being true to these mysterious, inner forces, which he does not even understand, he serves to expose the falseness of his wife’s arrogant religiosity and her own implicit idolatry.

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