Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Flannery OConnor’s The Enduring Chill :: OConnor Enduring Chill Essays

Flannery O'Connor’s The Enduring Chill Flannery O'Connor’s story, "The Enduring Chill." focuses on Asbury, a young man who fancies himself as a writer but who is convinced he is going to die young. Right from the very start we have the feeling that, as in the other stories, Christ/God is present through the figure of the sun: The sky was a chill gray and a startling white gold sun, like some strange potentate from the east, was rising beyond the black woods that surrounded Timberboro. (82) As the story proceeds it centres on the relationships between Asbury, his mother and Dr Block who attends Asbury and Asbury's growing conviction that he is shortly going to die, hence the title of the story, "The Enduring Chill." Another major symbol in the development of Asbury's obsession figures through the watermark or the water stain on the ceiling of Asbury's bedroom: When she was gone, he lay for some time staring at the water stains on the gray walls. Descending from the top moulding, long icicle shapes had been etched by leaks and, directly over his bed on the ceiling, another leak had made a fierce bird with spread wings. It had an icicle crosswise in its beak and there were smaller icicles depending from its wings and tail. It had been there since his childhood and had always irritated him and sometimes had frightened him. He had often had the illusion that it was in motion about to descend mysteriously and set the icicle on his head. He closed his eyes and thought: I won't have to look at it for many more days. And presently he went to sleep. (93) Clearly what is being suggested here is the peace of the Holy Ghost. In what is the climatic centre of the story, Asbury has a visit from a Roman Catholic Priest who accuses him of ignorance: "How can the Holy Ghost fill your soul when it's full of trash?" the Priest roared. "The Holy Ghost will not come until you see yourself as you are-a lazy ignorant conceited youth!" he said, pounding his fist on the little bedside table. (107) This is confirmed as the story proceeds because we find out that Asbury isn't really that sick at all: he only has a form of undulant fever and is going to live. At the very end of the story Asbury seems to give up his aspiration to be a great writer as he accepts the presence and power of Christ instead:

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