The Violent Bear It Away: A Novel

The Violent Bear It Away: A Novel

by Flannery O'Connor

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Overview

A brilliant, innovative novel, acutely alert to where the sacred lives—and where it does not

First published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is a landmark in American literature—a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Connor's work.

In this, O'Connor's second novel, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle that Tarwater will become a prophet and baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues, as Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more "reasonable" modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relative and lay claim to Bishop's soul. All this is observed by O'Connor with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374530877
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 06/12/2007
Series: FSG Classics Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 135,711
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.38(d)
Lexile: 980L (what's this?)

About the Author

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was one of America’s most gifted writers. She wrote two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away, and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge. Her Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest's 60-year history. Her essays were published in Mystery and Manners and her letters in The Habit of Being.

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The Violent Bear It Away 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is about the way people (children and adults) are trying to cope with religious fanaticism. Above all it shows how the credulity of children is exploited by parents and other family members for the sake of their own fanatic ideas. The main characters are Tarwater, a fourteen year old boy, who lives with his great-uncle in a cottage in the woods. There is Rayber, the schoolteacher, who's Tarwater's uncle. Bishop, the severely mentally disabled son of Rayber, is one of the most touching characters of the novel. When the great-uncle dies of old age at the breakfast table, the boy puts the cottage on fire and runs off. After a while he decides to go to his uncle Rayber who tries to win the friendship of his nephew. Though the intrigue is fairly simple it's sometimes a tragedy so dense that - at certain moments - it's almost unbearable to read further. It leaves the reader almost with a feeling that all the misery of the world has landed upon his shoulders. Only after a few moments he can fool himself by saying that it's only fiction, so why worry
Guest More than 1 year ago
O'Connor's grasp of faith and the mystical in modern man is amazing. Vivid setting and character, riveting unique style, and (most importantly) a message more universal and compelling for modern man than any other I have read. Some books seek to tell some truth about our society, some seek to explain a human action, some seek to describe that philosophy which most completely fufils the truth. O'Connor goes beyond all of these in her masterpiece. She seeks (very succesfully) to describe the two great pitfalls which the modern man who endeavors to find the greatest truth and pursue it is brought down by. And, of course, she finds and sets out before the reader the great truth in its pure form. Once you read the book, you just can't argue with her. Greatest book ever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The only book that begins to come close to this is The Waves, by Virginia Woolf. O'Connor employs all of her best talent in this one. It only took me a day to read and I'm sure it won't take you long, either.
bookweaver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book...shocking and unusual. What does it mean to be reborn?
kidzdoc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Violent Bear it Away, O'Connor's second novel, begins with the death of Mason Tarwater, a devoutly and fiercely religious old man who lives deep in the woods outside of a moderate sized town in Tennessee in the mid 20th century. His only surviving "heir" is his great-nephew Francis, a 14 year old boy who prefers to be called Tarwater. Mason kidnapped Tarwater as an infant from his nephew Rayber, the boy's uncle and a schoolteacher who lives in town, in order to baptize and educate the boy in order to make him a prophet of God. Mason tells Tarwater that, upon the old man's death, his duty will be to baptize Rayber's mentally retarded son Bishop, so that he may be saved from his morally corrupt parents and "burn clean" Rayber's eyes into realizing the errors of his secular ways.After the old man's death Tarwater is pleased to be released from Mason and his fanatically religious beliefs, and is eager to return to the home of his uncle Rayber, although he is angry that his uncle failed to rescue him from the old man. However, once Tarwater sees Bishop, he is both tormented and repulsed by the boy, and finds himself deeply and internally conflicted by the old man's dying wish and his own desire to escape his destiny. Compounding his torment is his uncle's fervent wish to provide Tarwater with a secular education, which causes Tarwater to angrily reject his uncle, who he sees as someone who prefers to talk than to act. The tension and strong emotions build over several days, until Tarwater finally acts on his passions.The Violent Bear it Away is a classic Southern gothic novel, with its dark and at times disturbing narration, with its overlying theme being the conflict between religion and secularism, and the violent reaction that often results. This was a powerful book, but I found it to be more predictable and overwrought than her first novel Wise Blood, which also explored similar themes.
StephenBarkley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿m almost at a loss for words after finishing this book. I picked it up after reading Rowan William¿s discussion of her work. I was unprepared for the power of her prose.O¿Connor has an uncanny ability to get inside the minds of the characters she¿s created and explain their thoughts like no one else. The characters are vivid, and remain with you after you put the book down.Another aspect of the book that made it so compelling was the complexity of the character¿s motivations. In the middle of the book, I couldn¿t imagine what to hope for as a resolution. In the end, I wasn¿t sure whether to cheer or cringe.If you want a novel that will stick with you, and challenge both the vacuosity of secularism and the terror of fundamentalism, this is your book.
beelzebubba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Modern vs. past, urban vs. rural, intellectual vs. spiritual, words vs. deeds, and above all, secular vs. religious. There came a point where I saw this struggle as an epic prizefight between Tarwater and Rayber, and wondered who would be left standing.Years ago, I experienced the battle of belief vs. non-belief within myself, and belief lost. So, naturally, I was on Rayber's side. And not knowing anything about O'Connor or her work, I had assumed she was as well. Obviously, I was letting my own experience and way of seeing cloud my judgment.Even though the ending left me feeling somewhat betrayed, still the work stands on its own as a great work of literature. I could go on and on about all of the symbolism, but won't. Suffice it to say that I find it a bit ironic that all of the acts of violence (arson, murder, rape) were vehicles on the side of religion, to carry it to victory. So I'm left feeling a bit justified that intellect took the higher ground; for whatever that is worth.
HankIII on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anytime, I read Flannery, I know I'm reading an original writing genius; The Violent Bear It Away is just one of her novels, yet I find myself looking into the very essence and ramifications of primitive spiritual influences upon Tarwater, as he struggles, resists, and succumbs to its outcome. Flannery is a master of tackling those themes beyond our grasp.
ElTomaso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The relatioinship between suffering and its impact on the presence and strength of ones faith is witnessed in this novel of pain, tragedy, and percevernece.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A strange, funny, violent novel in the finest Southern Gothic tradition. Flannery O'Connor's characters are almost never likeable, but they're always interesting.
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