Any individual who works with the fiction of Flannery O'Connor for any length of time cannot help but be impressed by the high degree of mastery she displays in her production of what must ultimately be considered a type of religious propaganda. In story after story, she brings her characters to a moment when it is no longer possible for them to continue in their accustomed manner.
The proud are repeatedly humbled, the ignorant are repeatedly enlightened, the wise are repeatedly shown that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," and the materialists are repeatedly forced to recognize that the treasures of this world are theirs to possess for a short time only.
Most frequently, as we have seen in the stories, the characters gain their new awareness as a result of having undergone an epiphanal experience. In many of the stories, the epiphanal moment is accompanied by violence and destruction.
In ten of the nineteen stories which appear in her two short-story collections, the death of one or more of the characters is used to produce the epiphany. This reinforces O'Connor's comment, "I'm a born Catholic and death has always been a brother to my imagination. I can't imagine a story that doesn't properly end in it or in its foreshadowings. In none of the stories, however, is the violence used as anything but a logical extension of the action of the story. Never is it used for its own sake.
Even more noteworthy, perhaps, is the degree of restraint which O'Connor uses in presenting scenes of violence which, in the hands of a lesser writer, could have been capitalized on for mere shock effect. This same tendency to underplay the violence and to accentuate the positive result of the violence on the character is illustrated in the goring to death of Mrs. Instead, she drew her characters and settings from the rural South she knew so well. Those characters were sometimes labeled grotesques by critics and scholars, but she rejected the term, feeling that it originated with writers who understood the South as little as they understood Christianity, a condition of ignorance she intended to remedy.
She understood that she was writing to a secular world, and she intended to instruct it in the Christian understanding of grace and redemption as the elements most central to human life.
In her first novel, Wise Blood , the central character, Hazel Motes, begins as a man who is determined to escape the compelling image of Jesus which haunts him. Its central character is Francis Marion Tarwater, a boy who, like Motes, is attempting to escape a calling. At the end of the novel, however, he is setting out to return to the city in his new role as prophet. That probably explains the large number of deaths in her stories, and it may also account for the strong sense of danger in many of them.
The word seems to imply that they are too exaggerated to belong in realistic fiction. Her backwoods preachers, she believed, came closer to understanding the human condition in relationship to God than any number of psychologists, teachers, and sociologists, none of whom ever appear very flatteringly in her fiction.
They are often funny, but they are almost always unpleasant. Enoch Emery in Wise Blood is an excellent example of this kind of characterizing. Almost everything about him is simultaneously funny and terrible.
His ignorance is responsible for much of his grotesque response to the world. He hates and fears the zoo animals he guards; he never knows how ludicrous he looks to others, and so he imagines that the ugly cook at the snack shop is in love with him and that no one knows he hides in the bushes to watch the women at the swimming pool.
His only real hero is Gonga the Gorilla from films. Morality Catholicism grace transcendence. Writing a Theology of Disabled Humanity.
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It requires considerable courage not to turn away from the story-teller. University of Georgia Press. Archived from the original on August 11, Archived from the original on April 9, Everything That Rises Must Converge. Flannery O'Connor, Hermit Novelist. University of South Carolina Press.
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Flannery O'Connor - essays, papers, and reports on Flannery O'Connor - critical essays.
Essays and criticism on Flannery O'Connor - Critical Essays.
Free O’Connor Flannery papers, essays, and research papers. Free Essay: To many critics, Flannery O’Connor was a“very devout catholic, [of the] (thirteenth century, [O’Connor described] herself),” suggests Mark Bosco.
Flannery O'Connor’s Stories Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for Flannery O'Connor’s Stories is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. Turns and Twists in Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find Essay - Turns and Twists in Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find Irony is a .