Rayber, Tarwater's uncle, a schoolteacher, had, himself, received the old man's indelible mark but he had repudiated his fate and married a woman from the Department of Welfare, twice his age. When Tarwater met the schoolteacher's dim and ancient idiot.
When Tarwater met the schoolteacher's dim and ancient idiot child, Bishop, he knew that he was expected to baptize him -- to carry on his great uncle's mission.
Focusing on three characteristics of reason, will, and love—Huelin shows how three of the novel’s major characters embody those qualities, even if they also represent perversion of those qualities. Travis Kroeker presents a strong argument linking the novel with the apocalyptic vision of John, the prophet, and tying this vision closely to the Eucharist and baptism.
Working not only with the title of the novel but also with the epigraph and what he feels is the pervasiveness of the influence of the Gospel of Matthew on the work, Karl E.
All the time he had lived there, the nephew had secretly been making a study of him.
The nephew, who had taken him in under the name of Charity, had at the same time been creeping into his soul by the back door, asking him questions that meant more than one thing, planting traps around the house and watching him fall into them, and finally coming up with a written study of him for a schoolteacher magazine.When his great uncle died at the breakfast table Francis Marion Tarwater, 14, too drunk to bury him, fired his house and set out for the city to find out how much of what the old man had told him was true.The old man, who said he was a prophet, had kidnapped the boy from his uncle, baptized him, and raised Tarwater to expect the Lord's call himself.Martin shows how Tarwater’s prophetic calling is transformed by his exposure to Bishop, the idiot child, who represents the messianic kingdom of heaven.Finally, Susan Srigley, the editor of this fine collection, explores the development within of the doctrine of the communion of the saints which stands side by side next to the high value placed upon the individual soul and the necessary tension and balance between the double movement of self-renunciation and self-fulfillment.Jason Peters emphasizes the importance in O’Connor’s work of the particular rather than the general, the concrete rather than the abstract, and the person of Jesus rather than an abstract idea of God.In this novel, Rayber is drawn to the abstract, and Peters demonstrates how abstraction violently separates individuals from each other and from themselves.Richard Giannone shows how O’Connor has respect for the humanity of even the darkest of sinners and the most adamant of unbelievers.In fact, he insists, in her fiction unbelief becomes “one way to God” (31). Desmond develops the importance of the protagonist Rayber’s early life in forming him as a contradictory figure—highly rational yet subject, because of his baptism, to feeling an overwhelming and non-rational love that floods his being.He is a theodicist, an Ivan Karamazov, who rejects any God who allows children to suffer.Unlike most other critics, Desmond sees ambiguity at the end of the novel as Rayber, knowing his child has been drowned, waits for the hurt to begin and instead feels nothing.