Flannery O' Connor: the River

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Iris Chicas
Flannery O’ Connor Essay
19 April 2013
Gray is more Black than White
An analysis of evil and the anti-Christ figure of Mr. Paradise in “The River”

In Flannery O’Connor’s story “The River”, the color gray is associated with the idea of evil. This evil is represented in the character of Mr. Paradise, who appears as the anti-Christ figure at the end when the protagonist reaches his epiphany and ironically drowns himself in the “River of Life”. O’ Connor associates much of her descriptions of Mr. Paradise with the color gray. For example, she introduces him as, “a huge old man who sat like a humped stone on the bumper of a long ancient gray automobile. He had on a gray hat that was turned down over one ear and up over the other to expose a purple bulge on his left temple” (38). In this description of Mr. Paradise, both his automobile and hat, which covers his cancerous ear, are the color gray. The element of gray also appears later to describe the Connin children’s eyes, as well as the pigs, glass, and even some of the scenery in the story. O’ Connor’s first use of gray in the story is when describing the morning. Early in the story, O’Connor describes “[o]utside the gray morning was blocked off on either side by the unlit empty building” (27). This is the morning in which Mrs. Connin comes to the Ashfield home in order to take Bevel with her to the healing at the river. Bevel, on this day, learns from Mrs. Connin where he comes from. O’ Connor writes, “[y]ou found out more when you left where you lived. He had found out already this morning that he had been made by a carpenter named Jesus Christ. Before he had thought it had been a doctor named Sladewall, a fat man with a yellow mustache who gave him shots and thought his name was Herbert, but this must have been a joke. They joked a lot where he lived” (33). Bevel’s parents do not teach him much nor are they religious people, thus Bevel is ignorant of any kind of religious ideas. This gray...
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