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The Violent Bear it away The Purification


Francis Tarwater has been influenced by two different ways of thinking. On the one hand there were Old Tarwater’s archaic ideas of religion which does not accept any critique and on the other hand there way this extreme form of rationalism, incorporated by Rayber which only accepted what is called real or true by Rayber himself. After having seen these two extreme mentioned positions, Francis Tarwater finally gets to an advanced step. This step could be called purification.
During this phase of purification Francis Tarwater gets rid of all forms of influence – whereever they may come from. The act of purification can be differentiated into three different part. the first of them could be called burning, the second one could be called drowning and the third and last one could be entitled with raping. Although this is a quite violent classification, it is pretty decriptive and defining. Burning

As we have already heard in one of the precedent chapters burning has to be regarded as a sin according to a more religious context; that is why Mason Tarwater is so afraid of this form of decease and state after his death. Burning a person is not only destroying that person, but it is also this liquidation of it. A burned person cannot come back, it is a away and cannot even been seen anymore. In this case burning Old Tarwater can be seen as a form of protest on the one hand and as a kind of absolute liberation on the other hand. Brinkmeyer writes hereon: „According to the stranger, Old Tarwater’s death gives Tarwater the opportunity to achieve his personal liberation, and he urges the boy to leave Powderhead and forget his great-uncle’s teachings.“ The author says that the great-uncle’s death finally gives Young Tarwater the possibility to start a new life which is free from the old man’s strange ideas of religion and religious traditions. It offers him the chance to become a free individual. Drowning 

A further action which could be regarded among the context of becoming a self-responsible individual, is the drowning of Rayber’s son Bishop. Bishop’s drowning frees Francis Tarwater:
„From Tarwater’s point of view, the drowning of Bishop is one more instance of his ability to act where his uncle has failed; for he regards his own life as a conscious acting over again, a correction, so to speak, of Rayber’s life.“
Orvell says that Rayber should or must have done the drowning to free himself; as he has not committed that, Francis has to finish it for him; at the same time the boy frees himself. Brinkmeyer utters a similar idea:
„Although the words of baptism slip from his mouth as he drowns the boy, Tarwater sees them as just that – a slip, their significance nullified by the violent murder. He views the drowning as the ultimate repudiation of Old Tarwater and the beginning of his life of complete personal freedom.“
The second author also sees the drowning as an action of becoming personally free. When committing this crime, Young Tarwater finally passes – as Brinkmeyer says – the last step towards personal freedom.
Taking away Rayber’s Bishop could also be seen as a final strike against his rationalism. Killing his beloved son, Francis Tarwater protsts against Rayber’s way of thinking. Dispising his uncle’s values – Bishop can be seen as a symbol for them – he protests against them as he had done with Mason Tarwater when burning his dead body. Raping

The third kind of violence which helps Francis Tarwater to become autonomous is the feat of raping. In a normal civilized surrounding rape is seen as one of the most terrible and most shocking forms of crime that can be imagined. Differently to this normal idea about rape, this crime gets a completely different meaning; up to a certain point it is even regarded, by certain authors, as positive action.
After having understood what had happened, he sets the scene of crime on fire:
„He kicked the leaves together and set them on fire. Then he tore off a pine branch and set it on fire and began to fire all the bushes around the spot until the fire was eating greedily at the evil ground, burning every spot the strange could have touched.“
In this case, the fire could be seen as a medium of clearing and cleaning from sin. For Francis Tarwater this action is ambiguous; firstly it is a crime which had been committed against him. He feels that and that is why he burns his clothes. Secoundly, you could also say that the action of rapining, as a whole, could be seen positively. After having burnt his clothes, as a symbol for having been cleaned from all sins, he can be seen as a purified person.
Following that way of interpretation, you have to have a look on what criticssay. Literature partly gives a quite positive image of the crime. Like Orvell, Brinkmeyer thinks in his quote that the rape in the forest by the homosexual marks a final and decisive point in Young Tarwater’s life:
„Tarwater’s final relevation, ushering in his ultimate identity and fate, comes after his rape by the homosexual [...]. The rape propels Tarwater out of the realm of everyday concerns and into the faraway country of Christ and the spirit; rather than resisting his prophetic destiny, he now rushes to it, returning to Powderhead to receive his relevation.“
The author describes the crime as the final relevation, that means that this action is a culminant point or in other words a further turning point. Orvell gives a statement which supports Brinkmeyer’s opinion about what happens in the forest, he writes hereon: 
„Before the rape, in a confrontation [...], Tarwater had sought to answer for his freedom, to `make bold his acts´ [...], but `to his horror what rushed from his lips, like the shriek of a bat, was an oscenity he had overheard once at a fair´ [...]. Now his will is purified and almost perfected, Tarwater begins to enter a country that, though familiar to him from infancy, suddenly seems `strange and alien´.“
Although it sounds paradoxical at the very beginning that a feat like rape can mean purification, several points can be found to support this thesis. As already said, rape is seen as a sin and in that way burning the dirty clothes can be seen as a literal and an obvious purification.
A further point of view is Francis Tarwater’s life as a whole. From that point on, Francis is completely free. He is neither under Old Mason Tarwater’s religious pressure nor under Rayber’s rational influence. After having burned the last part that could remind him on his old life, he can start completely new. On the very last page, Francis Tarwater reaches the road and realises what to do:
„Intermittently the boy’s jagged shadow slanted across the road ahead of him as if it cleared a rough path toward his goal. [... He] seemed already to envision the fate that awaited him but he moved steadily on, his face set toward the dark city, where the children of God lay sleeping.“
His goal could be seen as a new perspective. Neither burning Mason Tarwater’s body nor drowning Bishop had had such a positive and freeing effect on Francis Tarwater and his life. You could finally say that from that stage on, he is free and can take his new challenge, the city. Comment on The Violent Bear it Away

The story about Francis Tarwater is a shocking one. The boy lives through a tripple terror: religious foundamentalism, extreme rationalism and the crime of being raped. The confrontation between the two extreme positions of religious extremism and a hysterical form of rationalism. Despite these adversities he finds a more or less acceptable conclusion. He keeps himself on a certain distance to both positions. Having lived through these problems, he finally becomes the victim of a rapist. Although suffering from that, this terrible happening finally frees him and he can finally find his own way. 

4.2.4 Religious Values and The Violent Bear it Away

To a certain extend you could say that religious values, but also rationalism, are perverted in the The Violent Bear it Away. Both positions do not have very much in common with the same concept presented for example in Hartmann’s work. They are shown in an extreme way in Flannery O’Connor’s book. Neither religion nor rationalism are shown in a natural way both bear the notion of extremism and so both of them have to be refused. Francis Tarwater does the only right thing he does neither spiritualize Mason Tarwater’s nor Rayber’s concept of thinking. He finds his own way. 

4.3.1 Major conflicts in Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant, Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day and Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear it away

As we have seen, all the three novels bear conflicts. In the following chapters these conflicts will be shown and compared. Some of them can be found in two books, which offers the possibility to compare who they are handled. Conflicts concerning Family

There are two works which bear a family conflict; to be more precise you could also say that there are so-called father-and-son conflicts. When talking about this form of conflict Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant and Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day have to be mentioned.
During the 1950s and the 1960s, the traditional idea of a family still existed. The man was the family’s deciding head. His wife had to care about the household, which contained the children, too. Children, as the less powerful part of the scale of power, had to do what they were told to do. Every change of that order caused trouble and was seen as an attack on the existing society. Thinking about such a background, decisions of the acting figures have to be regarded carefully. Society forced people to a certain extend to act as they acted. Rebellion against a father

In Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day, Tommy Wilhelm is old Dr. Adler’s son; we find ourselves confronted with a real family situation, unlike Morris Bober’s and Frank Alpine’s relation in Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant.
Seize the Day presents us a classical, although a bit extreme, father-and-son conflict. The reader is confronted with two absolutely antithetic points of view concerning life-style. Several examples show this gap between the to generantions.
For the father who had once come to America as a poor Eastern European immigrant, money plays a central role. The son is different, he regards money as a necessary thing he has to earn, but private life, like watching football, is more important to him. As already quoted in one of the precedent chapters wathing football or reading magazines is a normal thing, it is on the one hand just something to relax; on the other hand for example drinking alcohol from a mug can firstly be an easy-going way of having a drink, but secoundly it can also give a hint on the son’s depressing situation. Tommy Wilhelm’s father cannot – or even does not want to – understand his son’s point of view. For his father all his son does are the actions of loser who is dirty and has failed.    
Another point aiming to this direction is that while Tommy Wilhelm finds himself in a complicated life situation, old Dr. Adler cares a lot about what other people are thinking of him. The father feels so ashamed about his son and his life-style that he even lies on his friends when meeting them in the hotel lobby. At the same time Tommy Wilhelm is faced with his worst situation ever. His wife has left him, she has taken his dog and his money, he has lost his job and he even has to ask his father for money. His father does not at all care about that and just wants to keep the good image he has.  
Not being able to cope with the present situation, which had been the same for his whole life, he tries to have more and more distance. Before what is the book’s real plot, what happens within the hotel, Tommy tried different things to get more distance. After having stopped school, he went to California to become a film star. This can be seen as a try to get physical distance. During his film career, he also changed his name from Wilhelm Adler into Tommy Wilhelm. This must be seen as a more psychological way to get more distance. Dropping the Adler is a symbol for the try to drop the father’s influence. At this point, he wants to finish his relation. When having failed in California he cannot return any more. He must keep the new name.    
Old Dr. Adler cannot understand that at all. He lives in another world. There are two ways of understanding the doctor’s behaviour: either he cannot understand his son or does not want.



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