E Parker and his wife Sarah Ruth.
The story has the salvation of a hard-drinking, woman-chasing heathen as its main theme. Both characters undergo a disturbing experience at a fair, both try to reject any involvement with religion, and both finally succumb to the demands of the spirit.
As you work with this story, pay particular attention to the chronology of the story. O'Connor does not follow a strict time sequence, but, instead, she uses flashbacks to provide background information.
Parker's initial awakening occurs at a fair where he sees a tattooed man whose "skin was patterned in.
Even though he discovers that his tattoos "were attractive to the kind of girls he liked but who had never liked him before," and that each new tattoo could temporarily ease the sense of dissatisfaction which he feels, he becomes frustrated because "he had not achieved that transforming unity of being that the intricately patterned skin of the tattooed man at the fair represented.
Although Parker acknowledges her uncommon ugliness, he finds himself repeatedly returning to court the woman who has rejected his tattoos as "a heap of vanity.
Parker proceeds on the basis of his furnishing fruit for her entire family. At their third meeting, Sarah Ruth succeeds in coaxing Parker to reveal his full name on the condition that she will never reveal it to anyone. Parker's refusal to acknowledge his full name can be seen as his refusal to recognize that even he has a role to play in the divine scheme.
Later, however, after he is touched by grace, he is then able to accept his full name. The symbolic significance of names and name changes in O'Connor's works is one element of the stories which should not be overlooked. Traditionally, it marks the passage from adolescence to adulthood Timmy becomes Timothyemphasizes a change in one's view of himself or herself Joy becomes Hulgaor it indicates a change in the status of an individual Jacob, the scoundrel who cheats his brother Esau out of his birthright, becomes Israel, one of the ancestors of the House of David.
Parker's having revealed his full name to Sarah Ruth establishes a bond between the two which ultimately leads Parker to marry her even though he has no conscious desire to do so. After they are married, he sometimes suspects that "she had married him because she meant to save him.
When Parker first meets her, she is described as "a giant, hawk-eyed angel. And after he has that tattoo, he finds her "icepick eyes" are the only comfort he can "bring to mind.
His preoccupation with "a suitable design for his back" causes him to drive a broken-down tractor into the only tree in a field where he is baling hay. The tractor upsets and catches fire, and Parker finds himself in the presence of a metaphorical burning bush.
The obvious parallel with Moses' experience is reinforced by O'Connor's comment that if "he had known how to cross himself he would have done so.
In addition to appreciating the wild humor with which Parker's adventures in the city are related, you should note that serious things are going on in this section of the story. Parker rejects all the romantic pictures of Christ as he flips through the book of available designs because he is convinced that when he reaches "the one ordained, a sign would come.
That someone is, of course, the inexorable approach of the Divine which Parker has been trying to avoid. His experiences with the tattooist he denies that he is "saved," and, initially, he refuses to look at the finished tattoohis attempt to get drunk, his fighting with the men who ridicule his new tattoo, and his expulsion from the pool hall described as being like "the ship from which Jonah had been cast into the sea" are all elements within the story which function to emphasize Parker's attempt to avoid acceptance of his new spiritual condition.
This lack of acceptance is carried still further, and although Parker now realizes that "the eyes that were now forever on his back were eyes to be obeyed," he makes one final attempt to return to his former state by returning to Sarah Ruth.
He feels that she "would clear up the rest of it, and she would at least be pleased. It was as if he were himself but a stranger to himself, driving into a new country. His insistence that "It's me, old O.
O'Connor's use of the expression "old O. It is a puzzled Parker who turns and looks behind himself "as if he had expected someone behind him to give him the answer.
As he looks to the east, the sky lightens, and he sees "two or three streaks of yellow the color of the sun and of divinity floating above the horizon. The effect of these events is to cause him to fall back against the door "as if he had been pinned there by a lance.
Obadiah serving Jah, or God Elihue God of him unknowingly proclaims his complete acceptance of the Deity. This, of course, marks the culmination of Parker's desire to emulate the tattooed man at the fair and brings him to the "destination" toward which he has been directed since he was fourteen.
When Obadiah Elihue shows his wife the new tattoo, convinced that "she can't say she don't like the looks of God," her reaction is not at all what he expects. Steeped in a legalistic-fundamentalist tradition which looks upon any representation of the Deity as idolatrous, she declares, "I can put up with lies and vanity but I don't want no idolator in this house.
Obadiah Elihue's suffering clearly places him in the ranks of the saved as the following passage from the Beatitudes would indicate: Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven; for so did they persecute the prophets who were before you" Matthew 5:"Parker's Back" is a short story by American author Flannery O'Connor.
"Parker’s Back" was published in in her final short story collection, Everything That Rises Must Converge.O'Connor, a devout Roman Catholic, often used religious themes in her work and examined the depth of human schwenkreis.com O’Connor once revealed in an interview, "All fiction is about human schwenkreis.com: Flannery O'Connor.
To the uninitiated, the significance of Flannery O’Connor’s Parker’s Back can seem at once cold and dispassionate, as well as almost absurdly stark and violent. Her short stories routinely end in horrendous, freak fatalities or, at the very least, a character’s emotional devastation.
“Parker’s Back” by Flannery O’Connor. This is the Christ Parker chooses to have inked on his back, even though the artist tries to dissuade him. It’s not a lovely or comforting image of Christ and that is typical of O’Connor’s presentation of Him.
But his eyes, his eyes demand Parker. Style and Technique. In almost all of her stories, O’Connor reveals her characters by their eyes. Here, Sarah Ruth has “icepick” eyes, and Parker’s eyes are “the same pale slate-color as the ocean,” reflecting “immense spaces around him.” Consequently, when Parker gets the tattoo of Christ on his back, the significance.
View Notes - O'Connor - Parker's Back from ENGLISH at Catholic University of America. Parkers Back Altman's wife was sitting on the front porch oor, snapping beans. Parker was sitting on the%(1).
The protagonist, O. E. Parker, resembles Hazel Motes, the protagonist of O'Connor's first novel, Wise Blood.
Both characters undergo a disturbing experience at a fair, both try to reject any involvement with religion, and both finally succumb to the demands of the spirit.