Group Read, June 2018: The Violent Bear it Away
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The crazy preacher uncle with his mania for baptism reminds me of the father in The Poisonwood Bible, who I always thought was implausible but now I figure was just supposed to be insane.
>5 annamorphic: I feel sorry for pretty much everybody but they do not want my pity, and a lot of the time they don't really deserve it. Yes!
All the religious speak and the way the characters' insanity projects itself through religion was so relentless and sort of put me off. And Rayber's supposed ability to "control" his madness which isn't realistic to me - as though mental conditions can be controlled through willpower. That's an old-fashioned idea in my mind. And then I'm not sure what she was aiming to say.
I also don't understand the title. I love the words, but don't really get what they mean. Even after reading the Bible verse that it comes from. Ideas?
The Bible passage the title comes from is particularly cryptic, I have seen different suggestions on its meaning in itself, so its connection to the book is equally cryptic...
One of the favourite themes of O'Connor is an element of transcendence entering into everyday life, a man coming in contact with divine, and this contact is never easy and often experienced in terms of conflict, insecurity, even violence when what was can no longer be. Several of her stories are variations of this theme though admittedly the theme of destruction and violence is more prominent here than her other stories.
Mason fights and attempts to bargain and in this way sows destruction all around him and almost destroys himself but finally bears away the warning of the terrible speed of mercy?
(and as such, it is sometimes pretty hard to call the endings of O'Connor stories "happy" or "sad", in many of them it kinda depends on the point of view).
I thought the ending was too predictable and didn't understand why the schoolteacher (I forget character names the instant I close a book) didn't see it coming. Or did he and pretended not to so it wouldn't be his fault?
Overall the book felt very "old". It was like reading a Greek tragedy. Everybody, including the protagonists, know the horrible fate that is predicted for them but they still cannot escape it. Whether they are doomed because of godly intervention or because of human frailty is not clear, and it doesn't really matter.