Hazel Motes is trying to find redemption. Although raised a Christian, and still held by its rules and moralizing, he wants to find another way to be saved. Initially, he becomes interested in a blind preacher and his daughter, hoping to become a follower. However, he decides to start preaching on his own, without any clear ideas other than everything that he has ever been taught about religion is a lie. He befriends Enoch, who thinks he has wise blood that shows him the true way, and has a mission that lies in parallel with Hazel's motives. At the end, Hazel discovers that redemption can only be personal, and it cannot be gained by gathering a flock of followers, and Enoch discovers that he isn't as special as he believed.
While reading this book, I was instantly reminded of Donald Ray Pollock, who recently published The Devil All the Time. Sure enough, after finishing Wise Blood, I did a quick internet search, and there was Flannery O'Connor listed as one of Pollock's major influences. In knowing that, it does sour the creativity of Pollock, as his writing is extremely similar. But then it brings up the question, who does it better? The original or the follower? Honestly, I preferred Pollcok because he takes the same themes as O'Connor, and makes them richer and darker. If I haven't have had read The Devil All the Time, I would have enjoyed Wise Blood a lot more.
The last chapter was the brightest part of the book. I felt disappointed by the book's ending. I thought that Hazel's change would be the impetus for a glorious, second part, in which he wanders around and meets other strange characters and becomes involved in mysterious events.
I don't think the book's description does justice to what actually happens. Hazel isn't preaching most of the book, although it is implied in the second half that he spends a lot of his time doing so. Another main character, Enoch, isn't even described on the book jacket description, and I thought he and the new Jesus plotline was the best in the book.