Religion in "The River" by O'Connor

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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In ?The River?, O?Connor tells a story of a young child, ignored by his parents, finding meaning in a preacher and a river. The story blatantly expresses that the only real value in life is through the chosen path of Christ. The characters in the story provide as key figured in life and the young child represents a lost soul finding his way to Christ.

Harry, a four year old, whose belligerant or hung over parents lack interest in him, finds himself at a religious revival meeting with a babysitter. It is through the babysitter that he learns about a religion and that there is a ?Father in Heaven? who loves him. He is then baptized and dunked into the river and then told that now he "counts" whereas he ?didn?t ever count before?. He was baptized as Bevel and now becomes Bevel; a messenger of the word to non- believers.

His parents may signify the wrong-doers, the faithless and the pathless. When Harry returns home, after the revival meeting, he is dumped in the middle of yet another belligerent party. He is the one that puts himself to bed and it is as though at home he doesn?t seem to count at all. His mother tucks him into bed and "he heard her voice from a long way away, as if he were under the river and she on top of it." Harry has been exposed to this Christian experience and the river. It is as if the river represents Christianity and because Harry has been dunked in this river it is as if he is still under it listening to his muffled mother?s voice.

O?Connor?s ending initially seems to be a tragic one but after a closer look and understanding...