O'Connor has a fascination with eyes. We have mentioned that in class, and it is true. She has brought it up again.
On page 379, O'Connor writes:
"The next morning when he went to the crib to give the baby his bottle, he found nothing in it but the blue magazine with the old man's message scrawled on the back of it: THE PROPHET I RAISE UP OUT OF THIS BOY WILL BURN YOUR EYES CLEAN.
'It was me could act,' the old man said, 'not him. He could never take action . . . '"
Why the eyes and the burning and the cleanliness, O'Connor?
There is something to be said for the eyes of a human, especially an afflicted one. Paul, as you'll remember, was made blind until he was made whole in Christ. O'Connor seems to be playing on the idea that eyes can deceive a man before they are cleansed. Afterward, however, they can be clean and holy. The blindness can allow for a man to be broken from what he knows and sees for long enough to see a greater purpose.
It is not just any blindness, though. O'Connor employs the harshness of burning the eyes. She did this in Wise Blood with the lime (a different kind of burning, but burning nonetheless).
When burning, the scars will be irreversible. Like a cauterized wound, the eyes will remain blinded and sealed. That is indeed the cleanness. The man is not just unaware of the physical presentation of the world. He is shut down completely. He will never see the world again, but it shuts down a portal of temptation.
What is the significance? O'Connor may be suggesting that a man lose something, no matter the cost, in order to know Christ.