“Parker’s Back”-Flannery O’Conner Tattooing the World- Juniper Ellis
· Born March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia – August 3, 1964 (Age 39) in Milledgeville, Baldwin County, Georgia, US
· Novelist, short story writer, essayist
· Writing Period1946-1965
· Genre writer of Southern Gothic
· Literary Movement member of Christian Realism
· Subject Interest include Morality, Catholicism, grace, and Transcendence
· Most well-known pieces are Wise Blood, The Violent Bear it Away, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises must Converge
1. Parker explains that his tattoo is the link between his wife and him initially meeting. Parker showcases his tattoo in a form of courtship with a Western image of masculinity (Flannery Para 427). How does this differ from Ellis’s Chapter 1 “Tatau and Malu” and its purpose in courtship and gender roles?
2. “He stay in the Navy for five years and seemed a natural part of the grey mechanical ship, except for his eyes, which […] reflected the immerse spaces around him as if they were a microcosm of the mysterious sea […] Everywhere he went he picked up more tattoos” (Para 428). Does Parker’s career as a sailor explain his fascination with the traveling or Oceania tattoo culture?
3. “He did not care much what the subject was as long as it was colorful…Parker would be satisfied with each tattoo for about a month, then something about it that attracted him would wear off” (Para 428). Does the tattoos’ insignificance clash with Samoan’s tattoo philosophy of genealogy and sacredness?
4. Saved from a burning tractor, Parker decides on a tattoo of Christ on his back. His interaction with his tattooist is depicted as comical. “The artist agreed. Any one stupid enough to want a Christ on his back, he reasoned, would be just as likely as not to change his mind the next minute, but once the work was begun he could hardly do so” (Para 436) How does this account showcase the differences between a tattooist in America and a tattooist in Oceania collaborating to create tattoos with the person being tattooed?
5. Similarly Queequeg from Moby Dick experiences a life threatening experience that prompts him to re-crave his image upon wood. “After Quequeg recovers from his own life-threatening fever, he carves portions of his tattoo into his coffin, copying the designs into the wood that will form Ishmael’s lifebuoy” (Ellis p 61). Is there connection among life, death, and tattooing?
6. “White men who chose to acquire the marks necessary to gain standing in the Pacific often returned to their homelands only to emphasize the necessity and deny the choice behind their tattoo” (Ellis p 155). When someone tattoos outside the context of Oceania culture is it cultural appropriation, a political contract of loyalty, or a fashion trend of the unknown?
Ellis, Juniper. Pacific Designs in Print and Skin: Tattooing the World. New York: Colombia U, 2008. Print.
Gooch, Brad. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, 2010. Print.
O'Connor, Flannery. "Parker's Back." Everything That Rises Must Coverage. New York: Signet Classic, 1965. 425-442. Print.