To Parker’s Back, a short story by Flannery O’Connor

I am responding to Parker’s Back, a short story by Flannery O’Connor, which shows how the human soul struggles against and towards the power of God. This story relates to my life in that there are times I try to escape reality but instead I end up being entrapped without any hope of escape. For example, in my daily encounters with people, my attempts to generate intelligent conversations are not always met with favor. Some people feel uncomfortable and may start avoiding such discussions; others prefer to stick to simple conversations like TV and celebrity gossips. In a word, having intelligent conversations is often fearful and confrontational for me as they tend to bring up things that I am trying to avoid. Everyone needs to escape reality once in a while, but the way we choose to do so is a significant determinant of how most people lead their lives.

This text disagrees with my view of marriage. I believe that marriage should be based on love and devotion. The couple in Parker’s Back seems to have different reasons for marrying each other. O.E marries Sarah believing she will deliver him for the loneliness in his life. While Sarah, on the other hand, marries to save O.E. Nonetheless, the text agrees with my view that without the right purpose in life, people can make bad decisions that may have lasting repercussions on them and people with whom they interact. In the text, Parker uses tattoos as his way of escaping from reality. This approach adversely affects his marriage since the tattoos are the leading cause of the constant confrontations with his wife. For example, after the taking the last tattoo, Sarah is annoyed and starts shouting “idolatry.”

The text strengthened my idea of body art. I am against the idea of having many tattoos because the art entails breaching the skin thereby posing the risk of skin infections. Besides, if the tattooing machine is contaminated, it may cause various blood-borne diseases like tetanus, and hepatitis B. Visible tattoos can hurt a person’s chances of being employed. In this view, the text relates to this opinion by portraying tattoos as a possible cause of Parker’s constant rejection and dismissal from his wife and previous jobs respectively. The reading strongly condemns the idea of many tattoos when Sarah says “…I don’t want no idolater in this house”.

This story does not address the position of women in marriages. The Bible requires women to be obedient and submissive to their husbands as they are to God (Ephesians). Sarah does the contrary; she constantly insults her husbands to the point where she physically assaults him, the author writes “He sat there and let her beat him until she had nearly knocked him senselessly.” Nonetheless, the text sufficiently tackles the issue of hopelessness in life. The story shows that people have different ways of escaping the realities of life. In fact, it explores body art in the form of tattooing as a means to relieve the dissatisfaction with the daily life.

I enjoyed the text more as a work of art rather than as entertainment. The work is mostly artistic, for instance, it uses tattoos both as work of art and as a form of expression. Each of Parker’s tattoos symbolizes a particular stage of his life. Overall, I think the work is a great piece of art through which the author adequately expresses the struggles of the human soul against and towards the will of God. O’Connor’s display of artistic supremacy encourages me to read any of her other work in future. Lastly, I would recommend this text to people struggling with different challenges in life so as to guide them and help them to make better life decisions.

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