Decay of Faith in "The Enduring Chill"

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Khaqhovia Lee
Ms. Bolle
IB Junior English
October 5, 2012
Decay of Faith
Heaven, earth, and beliefs of a superior being ruling the world are contradicted through Flannery O’Connor’s stories. “The Enduring Chill”, a short story by Flannery O’Connor, displays religious figures combined with the hypocrisy of Christian faith. “The Enduring Chill” is about Asbury, a male writer, who returns home to live with his mother due to his illness. Great conflict occurs between Asbury and his mother, so much that he would rather die and leave her in despair than to live with her, suffering life in a cage. Flannery O’Connor applies the motif of religion to express the contradiction of a Christian believer. Flannery O’Connor portrays religion through the use of animals, symbolism to religious figures, and Christian stories throughout “The Enduring Chill”.

Flannery O’Connor uses religious animals to reveal the contradiction nature of humans. When Asbury sees his sister, he tells his mother to, “let sleeping dogs lie” (O’Connor 358); the dogs could be related to Cerberus, the gate keeper to the underworld. Asbury sees his sister as evil. The quote also foreshadows Asbury’s illness, because he is lying in bed waiting for the illness to take his life, like the sleeping dogs. Flannery O’Connor also uses animals from different religions to foreshadow misfortunate events, such as “the dry cows were on one side and the milk herd on the other. She slowed the car and then stopped altogether, her attention caught by a cow with a bad quarter.” (O’Connor 362). The cow is a holy animal in the Hinduism religion, and the cow having a bad quarter is an omen of bad luck. It also foreshadows to the bad milk which is tainted with the stench of smoke, and causing Asbury to fall more ill. Another use of religious animals is “to find freedom, to liberate my imagination, to take it like a hawk from its cage and set it ‘whirling off into the widening gyre’ (Yeats) and what did I...
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