Indiana Jones, Osiris, and Jesus all in the same story! YES!

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Ok I would first like to say to bare with me in this entry because it may be a little out there, but I promise that it will be interesting all in the same.

"There's one of these doctors in Atlanta that's taken a knife and cut the human heart- the human hera," he repeated, leaning forward, "out of a man's chest and held it in his hand," and he held his hand our, palm up, as if it were slightly weighted with the human heart, "and studied it like it was a day-old chicken, and a lady," he said, allowing a long significant pause in which his head slid forward and his claycolored eyes brightened, "he  don't know no more about it than you or me (O'Connor, 50)."

This reminded me of two instances, both involving religion, which I feel is a major motif in this story. It first reminded me of Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom, when the creepy guy does human sacrifices and pulls out the person's beating heart. Creepy, but it's what it reminded me of.  Secondly, it reminded me of a ritual in Egyptian mythology called The weighing of the heart ceremony.  In this ceremony, after one dies, they take the journey to the underworld.  When they get to Osiris (God of the Underworld), he is standing next to a scale.  They then weight the person's heart in comparison to a feather, and if it is heavier, they stay in the underworld, but if it it lighter, they go to their paradise (Field of Reeds).  It's kind of like in the story when it says The life you save may be your own.  The egyptians believed that if you lived a good life, free of sin and malice, that your heart would weight less than the feather thus leading you to paradise.

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"Lady," he said, jerking his short arm up as if he could point with it to her house and yard and pump, "there ain't a broken thing on this plantation that I coulnd't fix for you, one-arm jackleg or not.  I'm a man," he said with a sullen dignity, "even if I atin't a whole one (O'connor 53)."

I also wanted to expand on this passage because I found an interesting contradtion.  As I was reading it, it kind of reminded me of Bruce Almighty, when Jesus is portrayed in different ways than what we would normally expect (homeless man).  I thought that it was almost like O'connor was using a Christ parallel here because Mr. Shiftlet was a carpenter (as Jesus was said to be), and he was being portrayed with a disability.  It's like the message was God is in the places where we least expect him to be.

THEN naturally after finishing the story, I realized that that was the COMPLETE opposite of what I thought was going on here.  But part of me wonders if that was what O'connor was going for.  Was she trying to build upon the figure only so the shock factor would be more intense in the end?  If so, I think she did a job well done.

Like I said, I know this blog entry is a little strange, but I think that those are some interesting comparisons and thoughts to take.  Hey, I try to think out of the box.

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2 Comments

Erica Gearhart said:

Stephanie,these are really interesting observations. I love Egyptian history and culture, so when I saw your topics on the comments page I just had to look at it. I didn't really think of the weighing of the heart when I read this part, but you are absolutely right. It seems almost as if O'Connor is referring directly to this story. I think you've got it right: O'Connor definitely uses religion as a major theme. This is a really creative and interesting parallel, as are the Indiana Jones comments.

As for her development of Mr. Shiftlet, I'm not really sure myself, but I addressed this topic (not exactly that he was a Christ figure, but a similar religious concept)in my blog. Here is the link if you would like to read it: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/EricaGearhart/2008/02/fate_and_raindrops.html

As we'll see with O'Connor, she continues to top herself. While we learn pretty quickly not to expect much humor, she doesn't follow a predictable formula.

Dr. Arnzen says never have a story with just two characters, because you know at some point they're going to have to turn on each other. If you have three characters, you can keep the reader guessing for longer.

While the ideas you present here are a bit scattered for an essay, they're just fine for a blog. You're doing a great job using your blog as a tool to put your ideas out in the open and get reactions from your peers.

Note that the reference to the Egyptian weighing of the heart ceremony would be completely random except for two reasons -- one, O'Connor specifically states that Shiftlet's hand is "slightly weighted with the human heart," and two, the structure of the story casts us, the reader, in the role of judge, since we know that both Lucynell Sr. and Shiftlett have deceived each other, and that the "innocent" Lucynell Jr. is ultimately a victim of both deceptions.

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