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Topics for Further Study

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  • Wise Blood depicts a man who denies Christianity to the point of extremes. Like Hazel Motes, many people feel a pull towards holiness that can result in destructiveness when the impulse is carried too far. Psychologists often study this phenomenon in cult followers. Research one of the recent cult suicides/massacres (e.g., Jonestown, Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate) to try to understand the "cult mentality." Explain cult members' actions in terms of Hazel Motes' actions in the novel and in terms of impulse carried too far.
  • Form a panel of "specialists" who will come together to present their views on the characters' motives in Wise Blood. These "specialists" should include a psychologist, a member of the clergy, a business person, and a representative of the community at large. The "specialists" must speak as experts in their particular areas of expertise and be prepared to cite examples of the characters' actions that will validate their views.
  • Hazel Motes and Enoch Emery both see their obtaining material prosperity as a way for them to accomplish their goals. What do Hazel and Enoch acquire and accomplish, respectively, that symbolizes their prosperity and proves to them that they have "made it"? How do people today prove to others that they have "made it"? Be ready to defend your thoughts.
  • Create a mask for one of the characters from Wise Blood that depicts the character's particular expression in a specific scene from the story. (For example, show Sabbath Lily Hawks at her most seductive.) Be prepared to explain the scene and the reasons for the expression you have chosen for your character.

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