In "Greenleaf," what does the bull symbolize?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In many of O'Connor's short stories, an odious person (sometimes called a "grotesque") is offered grace at the very moment of death. The grandmother in the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is an example of this - you may have read this short story. In "Greenleaf" the bull is the Christ symbol. At the very moment of her grisly death, Mrs. May is offered grace, and that is why when the bull gores her, she

has the look of a person whose sight has been suddenly restored but who finds the light unbearable"


"...she seemed, when Mr. Greenleaf reached her, to be bent over whispering some last discovery into the animal's ear."

At her moment of death, she is offered grace. The bull has been present in her life for many weeks, driving her crazy, resisting her attempts to send him away. He is like God calling to her, and she is a sinner rejecting him. This is because up until her death, she is blind - but at her death, her sight has been restored.

Please ask the second part of your question about the Mays and Greenleaf families at another time, as you may only have 1 question at a time.

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