First published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is a landmark in American literature―a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O’Connor’s work.
In this, O’Connor’s second novel, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle that Tarwater will become a prophet and baptize Rayber’s young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues, as Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more “reasonable” modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relative and lay claim to Bishop’s soul. All this is observed by O’Connor with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos.