O. E. Parker, a profane and shiftless man, has married Sarah Ruth Cates, a plain-looking, self-righteous woman who was “forever sniffing up sin.” Parker is unable to understand this marriage—why she stays with him, or he with her.
He had met Sarah Ruth one day when his truck broke down before her house. Sensing that the woman was watching him, Parker pretended to mash his hand in the machinery, swearing profusely. Without warning, Sarah Ruth appeared, striking him for talking filth. However, Parker noticed, beneath her severe countenance, that she had a curiosity in his tattoos, even though she denounced them as a “heap of vanities.” Parker’s fascination with tattoos began at age fourteen, when he saw a tattooed carnival man. Years later, he had got his first tattoo, then another, until now his front was almost entirely covered with serpents, eagles, hawks, and other animals. However, all these tattoos failed to make a coherent design, and his back had no tattoos at all.
Parker had not intended to marry any woman, especially not Sarah Ruth; he could not imagine why anyone would marry her. Nevertheless, he is married to her, and growing increasingly dissatisfied. Nothing will do, it seems, but to get another tattoo—something on his back, something religious, something forceful enough to “bring Sarah Ruth to heel.”
A few days later, Parker is baling hay with a broken-down tractor. Distracted by thoughts of his...
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Essay about Symbolism Anaylsis Parker's Back
1291 Words6 Pages
Life is not something simple as we often prefer. There are many different approaches and in most instances we will not find the desired fulfillment in any of them. In the short story “Parkers Back” written by Flannery O’Connor we have a multi-faceted view into the life of the primary character O.E. Parker. In addition we see into the life of Sarah Ruth, Parker’s wife and possibly into the life of author Flannery O’Connor, who died shortly after completing this short story. The characters in this story deal with Tattoos from totally different perspectives and get completely different results. Tattoos are the focal point of the story and prominent on many occasions. Without purpose in life people often make bad decisions which impact the…show more content…
It appears he is trying to hide behind all the tattoos so no one will focus on him. They are like battle scars to him and he knows the story of each in exacting detail even though they have no significant meaning to any other person. Parker is very frustrated because of his wife’s inability or unwillingness to see him as he sees himself. He is continually running away from his problems with the final destination being a Tattoo parlor and some more liquor to help wash his problems away. His wife finds the tattoos disgusting and doesn’t even want to see his body in the light because of them. He struggles to understand why she dislikes them and even wonders why she married him. How many times do we want the world to see us through our eyes instead of viewing and accepting actuality? Parker’s struggles in life never lead him to peace. Any relief he receives is for only a brief period. He is always trying to discover another way to please his wife and always makes the wrong decision. The accident on the tractor should have been a wakeup call to him. He came very close to losing his life. He was tried by fire as the tractor overturned and burned, catching the tree on fire also. He lay on the ground with his shoes on fire but again made a bad decision. His decision would carry him farther away from where he should be and increase the division between him and Sarah Ruth.
Sarah Ruth, his wife, at the same time, is struggling with her own set of