Flannery Month: Day 3

“Wildcat” by Flannery O’Connor

Quote of Note: “ ‘Lord waitin’ on me,’ he whispered. ‘He don’t want me with my face tore open. Why don’t you go on, Wildcat, why you want me?’ He was on his feet now. ‘Lord don’t want me with no wildcat marks.’ He was moving toward the cat hole. Across on the river bank the Lord was waiting on him with a troupe of angels and golden vestments for him to put on and when he came, he’d put on the vestments and stand there with the Lord and the angels, judging life. Won’t no nigger for fifty miles fitter to judge than him.”

Summary: A ghost story of sorts, Wildcat, as it name suggests is about a wildcat, supposedly close to town. Old Gabriel can smell the wildcat coming and is extremely terrified of it attacking him.

Thoughts:

  • To be honest, I wasn’t in love with this story. You can tell it is one of Flannery O’Connor’s early stories. It definitely incites terror and works as a ghost story, but it seems to lack her usual depth. The structure, too was a little difficult to follow, especially the flashback.
  • However, the quote I chose really struck me, because it takes something so hard to imagine, something with no precedent — arriving at the gates of heaven and meeting the Lord — as something so literal. The idea that the Lord wouldn’t take him if he was torn apart by a wildcat and had the wildcat marks on him, captures all of our childlike innocence and confusion when trying to grapple with the metaphysical and put it into our physical, tangible terms. If we did meet the Lord in our bodies as they are when we die, then no I wouldn’t want to die brutally and look like a garbled mess. But at the same time the image of all these people meeting their maker in their zombie at a haunted house status is satisfying grotesque and ridiculous.
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