“Parker’s Back” by Flannery O’Connor

An Analysis of “Parker’s Back” by Flannery O’Connor

Mary Flannery O’Connor was an award-winning American author and litterateur known for plants that reflected Roman Catholic beliefs, moralss, ethical motives and values. Considered as one of the many influential authors in the twentieth century, she is best known for her 32 short narratives and two novels titled “Wise Blood” ( 1952 ) and “The Violent Bear It Away” ( 1960 ) . Harmonizing to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, the literary prowess of O’Connor depicted in her fictional plants stemmed from her spiritual background, with her parents both from two of the oldest Catholic households in the U.S. province of Georgia ( “Flannery O’Connor [ 1925-1964 ] ” ) . Like the author’s other narrations, “Parker’s Back” exhibits hurting and agony that human existences endure to certify their religion in God. But overall, it has distinguishable features, from the rubric to the characters and the narrative itself, that make it challenging and interesting for readers. “Parker’s Back” was published a twelvemonth after O’Connor passed off in 1964. It was portion of her concluding short narrative aggregation titled “Everything That Rises Must Converge” . This reappraisal aims to foreground O’Connor’s success in using the footings our category discussed this semester.

The short narrative told in the 3rd individual begins with O.E. Parker watching her pregnant married woman snarling beans from a distance at their place in Georgia. In this expounding, Parker describes his partner as a field, thin and ugly adult female “forever whiffing up sin” ( “Parker’s Back” 393 ) . The chief character is depicted as a discontented and disgruntled adult male who is filled with uncertainties, including the attitude of his partner, peculiarly of her feeling at his tattoos. The adult male recalls the “almost stupefied smiling of shock” in the woman’s face when she foremost saw the lasting ink design on his arm in the forenoon of their first meeting ( “Parker’s Back” 395 ) . Early on in the narrative, O’Connor set the tone for Parker’s solitariness and isolation of his feelings to himself. The narrative made in the 3rd individual from the chief character’s point of position strengthens the privy temper with which Parker reveals himself to the reader. However, a feeling of avidity to dig deeper in the narrative comes as the narrative discloses a rite of transition the first clip the 14-year-old Parker saw a adult male whose organic structure was full of tattoos during a just, a minute that the male child felt so fascinated with something out of the ordinary that he ne’er thought was possible in his being. It did non take long before the male child had his first tattoo of “the bird of Jove perched on the cannon” done by a local creative person ( “Parker’s Back” 395 ) . Since he discontinue school the undermentioned twelvemonth, the immature Parker started working different occupations for the exclusive intent of acquiring himself tattooed on different parts of his organic structure, except his dorsum. As a prefiguration on his hereafter, it was during this clip that Parker went astray, go forthing his disquieted female parent to fall in the navy by lying about his age. It is rather easy to associate with the experiences of Parker as he explored his milieus and emerged himself into the universe. While in service, Parker got the chance to acquire inked in faraway topographic points and shifted from wishing exanimate objects to animate beings and even royalties. The dependence to tattoos led him to make full the full forepart of his organic structure with lasting ink, except for his dorsum. Dissatisfaction came to the adult male as the infinite without tattoos in countries of his organic structure that he could readily see reduced. Absence from the naval forces without official leave caused him a dishonourable discharge and made him take assorted occupations. It was when he worked as a fruit marketer that he met Sarah Ruth Cates, his soon-to-be married woman who had a Straight Gospel sermonizer for a male parent and a female parent who stayed at place to take attention of her siblings.

In the narrative, the chief character is non hard to place as both a supporter and adversary. While he is doubtless pessimistic, the reader will feel for his attitude towards himself and his failing to see the bright side of life. In attractive force towards the opposite sex, Parker is the typical conceited adult male with assurance and pride. He says he did non fell in love-at-first-sight with Sarah Ruth but he admitted that was drawn to her immediately until they became inseparable. In one of his early battles with Sarah Ruth, Parker reluctantly reveals to the miss the significance of O.E. in his name, Obadiah, which means “ Servant of God ” and Elihue that stands for “ My God is He ” ( “Literary Interpretation of Flannery O’Connor’s Short Story, ‘Parker’s Back’” ) . Still, Sarah Ruth refused to show grasp for Parker, peculiarly for his tattoos. On their first meeting, her description of the tattoos was, “Vanity of vanities.” Sarah Ruth had besides rejected Parker’s suggestion that they lie together prior to acquiring married. “He made up his head so and at that place to hold nil to make with her ( “Parker’s Back” 398 ) . But they finally tied the knot “in the County Ordinary’s office Parker because Sarah Ruth thought churches were idolatrous. A major struggle in the narrative comes when Parker became more suffering after the brotherhood, which he had ne’er intended when he was still a individual adult male who mingled with different misss. Sarah Ruth, on the other manus, ne’er changed and would more frequently than non lecture Parker on God’s judgement if he went on with his ways. Parker continued to fall back on holding a tattoo as a agency to deviate the feelings he himself did non understand. Another prefiguration takes topographic point as the huge dissatisfaction, which is exhibited in the sum of tattoos on Parker’s organic structure, became excessively intense that he eventually thought of holding the bare tegument on his dorsum tattooed one twenty-four hours. An thought that formed in his head was to set a spiritual image that he though Sarah Ruth could non defy. From his forsaking of his female parent, the naval forces and withdrawal from Sarah Ruth, Parker represents a individual who seeks boundaries and organisation for himself but seeks equivocation one time he gets them. In the flood tide of the narrative, it was two or three forenoons subsequently when Parker got into a dangerous accident at work that compelled him to acquire the tattoo of God on his dorsum one time and for all. The tractor he was driving on the field ran over stones and turned over. “A fierce thumps propelled him into the air, and he heard himself shouting in an unbelievably loud voice, ‘GOD ABOVE! ” ( “Parker’s Back” 400 ) . He shortly arrived at the store of the tattoo creative person he on a regular basis visited and after looking at a book of stencils, Parker decided to hold an image of the Byzantine Christ on his dorsum. He did non travel place to Sarah Ruth since the accident and until the tattoo was finished. While passing the dark on a fingerstall at the Haven of Light Christian Mission, which he chosen for its free adjustment and repast of kinds, Parker pondered and felt shocked of all that had happened to him in the brief clip that had passed. He besides reckoned how much he missed and longed for his married woman whose “sharp lingua and icepick eyes were the lone comfort he could convey to mind” at that really minute ( “Parker’s Back” 402 ) . The following twenty-four hours, when the tattoo was finished, Parker bought whisky and visited a saloon he frequented since he came to the metropolis. Epiphany comes in the surprised and badgering welcome of his familiarities when they discovered and set eyes on his latest tattoo inside the barn-like topographic point. Parker realizes that throughout his life, he had been following his inherent aptitude and strong desires of whoever he wanted to be without recognizing it, since he got his first tattoo and became drawn to the hurting and pleasance of the lasting images in his organic structure up to the clip that he pursued Sarah Ruth. And in his latest battle, he came to understand that in every bit much as he wanted to delight his married woman ; he was besides seeking God of all time since she came into his life. His determination to hold the Byzantine Christ and its all-demanding and straight-looking eyes everlastingly on his dorsum was non merely for Sarah Ruth but for Parker himself. When he eventually went place, Sarah Ruth did non allow him in until he said his full name, Obadiah Elihue. It was so that the married woman found out about his husband’s lies about the old female employer and the incident at work. But Parker seemed deaf to what Sarah Ruth was stating. Alternatively, he nervously insisted that his married woman expression at his dorsum. When Parker told Sarah Ruth that it was God tattooed on his dorsum, the latter’s reaction was nil near to what Parker had expected. Alternatively Sarah Ruth accused Parker of devotion and hit the image with a broom until swelling formed on the fresh lesion. Parker was forced outside where he cried like a babe as he leaned against the pecan tree.

Overall, O’Connor used the seven basic elements of a short narrative in “Parker’s Back, ” viz. the scene, struggle, character, subject, secret plan, flood tide and duologue. Each component gave enabled readers to catch up with the important constituents and events in the narrative every bit good as recognize the constructs used to relay the messages the writer aimed to convey. It besides parallel to other plants of O’Connor, such as “A Good Man is Difficult to Find” and “Revelation” for holding spiritual tones in the southern Gothic subject of composing that triggers a glooming feeling as you read on. In comparing to “Revelation, ” “Parker’s Back” besides has a chief character that lacks overall assurance and conceal his true personality by feigning to be a strong and knowing individual in forepart of other people. Both besides end with the chief characters seeking God’s clemency and atoning their wickednesss and defects. “A Good Man is Difficult to Find” and “Parker’s Back” both have noteworthy properties, with the former being one of the short narratives in O’Connor’s first aggregation published with the same name and the latter among those published in the author’s aggregation completed in the concluding yearss of her life and published a twelvemonth after she died after combating with lupus. “A Good Man is Difficult to Find, ” which is considered as one of the most-famous plants of O’Connor, contrasts with Parker’s Back” in the grade of the chief character’s battle and personal issues. “Parker’s Back” is directed towards happening a profound significance to the chief character’s life and relationship with God, with Parker showing his intense feelings and emotions as he went through the hard fortunes in his life.

However, O’Connor efficaciously applied Biblical symbolisms and her spiritual beliefs every bit good as ideas on moralss and moral values in all three narratives and the remainder of her plants. The author’s southern Gothic subject of composing makes her narrations more attractive and fascinating for readers, in general. In “Parker’s Back, ” she succeeded to offer a compelling literary interlingual rendition of an individual’s ultimate hunt for contentment and spiritualty through painful experiences and forfeits that lead to the realisation of individuality and self-awareness. The short narrative besides proved the capableness of narrations to elicit different emotions from readers, from positive feelings such as grasp, exhilaration and felicity to negative point of views such as choler, irritation, resentment, depression and bitterness. From reading three of her plants, it is apparent that O’Connor mastered the southern Gothic manner of composing combined with realistic life experiences that concern Catholic beliefs, norms and traditions. While the narratives are focused on a specific spiritual construct, all of O’Connor’s plants have the capableness to capture and pull readers with different philosophical positions and sentiments through the objectiveness of how events and brushs in the lives of the stories’ characters are told.

Plants Cited

Kennedy, Giola. “Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing” Eleventh Edition, 2009.

Gordon, Sarah. “Flannery O’Connor ( 1925-1964 ) .” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Ed. NGE Staff. 2002. Accessed 28 Oct. 2013.

Martin, Bryce. “Literary Interpretation of Flannery O’Connor’s Short Story, ‘Parker’s Back’.” Yahoo! Voices. 2013. Accessed 28 Oct. 2013

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