Wise Blood Chapter 11 Summary
by Flannery O’Connor

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Chapter 11 Summary

About noon the next day, a person in a long black raincoat with his collar turned up and a hat pulled low moves quickly along the back streets of town, close to the walls of the buildings. In his arms is a baby-shaped bundle wrapped in newspapers, and his umbrella keeps slipping down and getting tangled in his feet. Soon it begins to rain and the man takes shelter between two store windows. Enoch Emery is on his way to see Motes. The bundle is the object he showed Motes at the museum; Emery stole it the day before.

He had dressed all in black, even covering his face and hands with brown shoe polish so if anyone saw him they would think he was a black man. When the guard was asleep, Emery smashed the glass with a wrench. He thrust the shriveled man into a paper sack and walked out past the still-sleeping guard. Back in his room, he placed the new jesus in the gilt cupboard, but barely looked at it. He waited for about twenty minutes to listen for his next instructions, but he realized he must take some action first.

After tiptoeing across to the cabinet, he opened the door a tiny crack and peeked through it. Soon he opened the door a bit wider and stuck his head in “the tabernacle.” There was absolute silence until he heard “a loud liquid noise” erupt from the cabinet and the thump of a bone cracking against a piece of wood. Emery staggered backward, shocked. At first he thought the shriveled man had sneezed, but then he understands it was he who sneezed and “a deep, unpleasant knowledge was breaking on him slowly.”

He got up at ten the next morning, his day off, and began to look for Motes. He remembered the address the blind man’s daughter had given him. He is disgruntled at having to spend his day off in such a way and in such bad weather, but he has to get rid of the new jesus so that the police, should they come looking, will blame Motes and not him. Emery does not understand why he had let himself risk his life for a dead, part-black dwarf who had never done anything with his life but get embalmed and then lie moldering in a museum. In his mind now, one Jesus “was as bad as another.”

Now, Emery continues his journey. It is Saturday and many children are milling in front of the movie theater. Though he does not really like children, they seem to like looking at him, and today he is quite a sight. The children laugh as he battles the ancient umbrella, and Emery glares at them. As he turns to leave, he finds himself staring at a huge picture of a gorilla; over the beast's head is an announcement that Gonga the gorilla will be here in person today at noon. The first ten people who are brave enough to walk up and shake his hand will get free movie tickets.

He should have been more aware of the potential danger, as he has had many such experiences in his life, but now he sees the chance to “insult a successful ape” as a gift from Providence. The new jesus becomes sacred once again and Emery knows he is going to be rewarded for his actions in a “supreme moment” which he has been expecting.

Gonga is ten minutes late, and when he arrives he does not want to get out of the truck because of the rain. Finally, the figure in the ape costume emerges wearing a raincoat and an iron chain around his neck. He completely ignores the children as he walks to the small platform near the side entrance of the theater. He steps up, turns around, and then begins to growl at the children. The growls are not particularly loud but they seem poisonous, as if they emanate from a black heart. None of the children move toward the creature.

Finally a little girl approaches the gorilla and shakes his hand, and other children follow. The gorilla is bored and does not even look at them as he shakes their hands. Emery is no longer afraid and now tries frantically to think of a suitable obscene remark with which to insult the creature. Soon there is no one between him and the gorilla and he shakes the ape’s hand. It is the first hand...

(The entire section is 1,465 words.)