Red water is not a good sign!

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   So I learned before I read this Flannery O'Connor story to prepare myself for a shocking and upsetting ending.  I was not expecting it in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" but this time I was prepared.  I picked one of the many quotes that forshadow the outcome of the story.

   "His face was all bone and the red light reflected from the river" (O'Connor "The River" pg. 33)


   Gosh if this isn't a hint at what's to come, I don't know what is.  As soon as I read this I thought, "Aww...geez another one of these upsetting stories.  I just want my bunnies and rainbows."  Just kidding, I like reading things that aren't happy sometimes.  The preacher's bone face reminds me of Death himself.  It is ironic that the man that introduces this child to "life" and its true meaning also introduces the child to his own death which is why I think that O'Connor didn't make the preacher a fat and jolly man.  The thing that really struck me about this passage is the fact that the river reflected "red light."  I knew something bad was to come because earlier when describing the sun, O'Connor said it was white.  Therefore, in my head I figured that for her to deviate from her chosen color scheme, there had to be a good reason.  I figured that the red was more than Christ's blood although that had a part in it.  There were several more places in the story where the river appears as red but I won't point them all out.  The child's unfortunate ending was really upsetting to me though because he never got to experience a good family.  His own family was too self absorbed to really care about him and what he was doing.  Poor, poor little Harry.


Hold that thought, Angela. You're right that this story has a shocking ending, but think about the purpose it serves.... we'll talk more about this sort of thing as we continue to work our way through O'Connor's works.

Angelica Guzzo said:

I like happy endings too, but we learn important meanings from sad endings as well. I felt bad for him too. Everyone deserves a fair chance for a family.

Erica Gearhart said:

Angela, I like your idea that the preacher represents death because of his features. I did not really think of that when I read the story, but it is an interesting thought.

Jeanine O'Neal said:

Remember that red water is also siginificant in the Bible. Moses turned the river into red blood and Jesus poured out blood and water from his side. Other than that, the boy was baptising himself in the river. When you are baptised, you are said to be born again. In death, you are also born again into the Kingdom of God (this is solely based on O'Connor's Catholic beliefs so I'm not pulling this religious stuff out of nowhere). If you want to read more about this I wrote it in my blog if you want to read it.

Greta Carroll said:

Jeanine, you beat me to my comment! Ha ha. I was going to bring up the point that the red water could also refer not just to Jesus’ blood, but also Moses turning the Nile River to blood. But to take it one step further than Jeanine, I would also like to point out that eventually one of the other plagues which fell upon the Egyptians was the death of the first born. Little Harry is the first, and only son of his parents. Mrs. Connin, almost like Moses, warns his parents of their sin, yet they do not listen. Look what the result is…Harry’s death. So as Jeanine pointed out, it goes back to O’Connor’s Catholic roots.

Tiffany Gilbert said:

I agree with Jeanine and Greta's comments based on the Catholic beliefs. O'Connor uses a signifcant amount of references to the Catholic teachings. One comparison to the red water in the river also relates to the Kingdom of God in which Beveul is trying to find. Only through death will one find the Kingdom of God. The river has alot of significance and many allusions to the bible. Here is my blog entry about it.

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