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Renascence

Volume 72, Issue 2, Spring 2020

Franklin Arthur Wilson
Pages 67-85

Theft as Gift: Percy, Peirce, and Bible in The Second Coming

This article explores Walker Percy’s use of Charles Sanders Peirce’s concept of “Thirdness” as an interpretive tool in connection with Percy’s use of the Bible in his novel, The Second Coming. In this context, Peirce’s “Thirdness” may be understood as that which mediates between a word (say, w-a-t-e-r, spelled out in Helen Keller’s hand) and a thing (the stuff called “water” simultaneously flowing over Helen Keller’s other hand) as, indeed, Walker Percy defines “Thirdness” in his essay, “The Delta Factor” (The Message in the Bottle, 3-45). As such, C.S. Peirce’s “Thirdness” serves Percy as a model for understanding the function of “triadic” (human) language in the operation of relations both human and divine.

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