Brief Summary Of The Story 'The River By Flannery O' Connor

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O’Connor’s story “The River” deals greatly with the motif of religion. Harry, who takes on the name Bevel, is taken to see a priest by a babysitter and her children. Harry gets baptized by the priest and learns that the river will take him to another place: the kingdom of Christ. Harry, who had originally been taking baptism as a joke, decided he wanted to leave his current ill situation to go to the place the priest described. The following day, after finding himself still physically with his unloving parents, returns to the river. Harry had taken what the priest had said quite literally and this leads to him drowning himself in an attempt to discover the kingdom of Christ. From this brief summary, it is obvious that “The River” has strong…show more content…
Due to his lack of proper upbringing, he tended to take most things as a joke. However, when Harry witnessed the priest’s serious face after Harry’s taunting and teasing, Harry may have realized that the priest had been serious about his preaching. Therefore, the reason why Harry took his words much more literally than he ever had with anyone else’s speech. It also highlighted the naivety and Harry’s young age. Harry easily misinterpreted religion and was very ignorant towards it, but still went towards it in order to escape his circumstances with his parents. O’Connor pointedly makes Harry under the age of accountability in Christianity, meaning Harry’s sins were not considered for. Hence, it is believed that the ending is in fact a fortunate situation for Harry as he reaches heaven, the kingdom of Christ and receives salvation from his parents. Foster said that Baptism could symbolize the meaning of progress, which also played a role in “The River”. Harry felt the effects his own baptism only after he believed he was making progress. This is shown in this quote, “For an instant he was overcome with surprise: then since he was moving quickly and knew he was getting somewhere, all his fury and fear left him.” Harry’s baptism is tied to his progress, and feels a relief of emotions when he believes his heading towards the kingdom of Christ that Bevel had declared he would find at the end

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