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“Wise Blood” is a movie that is full of, sarcastic and even black humor. Its main character is Hazel Motes. He is a war veteran who returns home after the war. There is nothing that awaits him there, and so he starts doing something he had never done before. The only sure thing in his life is a small graveyard by the dilapidated forsaken house.

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The empty house, which previously used to be full of life, now is only a confirmation to what the truck driver commented – everybody had died or had moved away. Hazel comes to the home where nobody waits for him and there is nothing that reminds about a loving family or a happy childhood. He finds the gravestone of his grandfather, who was a fundamentalist preacher. The only memories that haunt this young man are pictures of his grandfather preaching and condemning everybody for being sinners, and the mixture of emotions the young boy felt when he heard his grandfather’s words. People were curious to find out who exactly was in the “coffin” his grandfather was “showing” to all the attendees, and the realization that it was nothing but mockery. He also remembers how he used to put stones in his shoes to inflict pain in order to atone for his sins. Perhaps it was an attempt to please his grandfather, who he was so afraid of that he wetted his pants when listening to his preaching. It seems that since those times Hazel has developed strong opposition to the hypocrisy and rebellion towards any forms of Christianity, which is often marred in the movie by various so-called preachers, who conduct their activities only to their own gain.

Hazel was wounded during the war, but he does not want anyone to see his injuries. For some reason this is not something he is proud of. The audience can only guess the reason behind it: either he does not want to reveal the place of injury itself, or he was wounded at the circumstances he is ashamed of. He is obviously troubled and wants nothing to do with the accepted religion, but he seeks the truth and the new life in a different town. However, there are many people in his new life who have their minds fixed and, although they appear to be religious, they are just as far from the truth as he is.

Hazel wants nothing to do with religion, however, everybody who sees him, comments he looks like a preacher, which he angrily refuses. In fact, Hazel is very troubled and short-tempered. But he does not reach out to other people unlike Enoch Emory. Hazel finds his solace in rebelling against what he perceives to be not truth. He craves for the truth and, at the same time, reacts violently to the deceit.

When he first arrives to the city, he meets a blind preacher Hawks, who supposedly blinded himself for Christ’s sake, and his daughter. Hazel suspects from the very beginning that the man is not blind, but only fools others, and one night he gets the proof of it. Then Hazel decides to establish his own church, without Christ. He earnestly preaches, standing on the hood of his “good car”. The message he preaches is not popular with people, as pointed out by Onnie Jay Holy. He offers Hazel to help him preach with the goal of getting easy profit. Hazel is only repulsed by the offer and outraged by the next day’s appearance of a man, who resembles him very much – the same complexion and suit, the similar car and the message. His anger is so great that he murders the “impostor” and decides to go to another city to preach. However, the patrol officer, upon discovering Hazel does not have a license, pushes his car into a lake and Hazel feels helpless and returns home.

The car played a significant role in Hazel’s life. It was his home, him “independence accessory”, his pulpit, and a sort of religion illustration in a way. Despite many troubles with the vehicle and its irreparable state, he firmly and unfoundedly believed his car was a good one and that “nobody with a good car needs to be justified”. That is why to lose his car was the “last straw” for Hazel.  

Another illustration of the deceit, which is so rampant in the world, is the Gonga’s gorilla show, with many children assembling to shake the hand of what they believe to be a monster.  Enoch simplemindedly believes Gonga is real, but when he discovers it is only acting, he steals the suit in the naïve attempt to use it to make friends.

Hazel cannot find stability and satisfaction in life. Having rejected Christ, he has no one to atone for his sins. Thus, in order “to pay” for his deeds he blinds himself, wears a wire around his body and puts stones in his shoes, just like he did in his childhood. However, the physical affliction does not bring emotional relief. The world seems lonely and deceitful. It will gladly embrace a blind preacher, as Hazel’s landlady points out, regardless of the truth.  

In a way, Hazel’s death frees him from the bondage of deceit. He did not have to prove anything to anyone anymore. There is a hope he found peace and redemption, he was found and brought home.

Code: writers15

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