Parker's Back

In: English and Literature

Submitted By froberts730
Words 823
Pages 4
In the short story “Parker’s Back,” Christian writer Flannery O’Connor introduces her readers to O.E. Parker and Sarah Ruth and their relationship. On the surface the story covers the increasingly tattooed Parker’s inexplicable attraction towards uptight Sarah Ruth and their ill-fated marriage. However, O’Connor wrote much more into her short story than just the obvious narrative. Through contrasting characters, symbolism, and allusions, O’Connor communicates a deeper message of redemption to her readers as she explores God’s calling of even the most distant and hostile individuals. Straight from the start of the story O’Connor begins to contrast her two main characters. Sarah Ruth is described as “plain, plain,” with skin “drawn as tight as the skin on an onion” and eyes “grey and sharp like the points of two icepicks” (219). This description evidences the lifelessness and harsh unforgiving nature of Sarah Ruth. Parker is less directly characterized but it is revealed that he is an open sinner – admitting to fornication, gambling, and swearing – and was almost entirely covered in extraordinarily colorful tattoos. Sarah Ruth proudly owns up to the Old Testament roots of her name while Parker chooses to go by his last name rather than use his given name, Obadiah Elihue. The reader recognizes that Parker is running from God while Sarah Ruth is living a Pharisaical life of rules and judgments. Sarah is by all indications the best person to lead Parker to God but in the end is unable to recognize Him when Parker finally does. O’Connor’s writing is heavy with Biblical and Christian symbolism. When Parker was a young teenager he saw a man tattooed with “a single intricate design of brilliant color [... forming an] arabesque of men and beasts and flowers” and was captivated by this image of the Garden of Eden, of what mankind could be (O’Connor 223). Parker spends the…...

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