The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor


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Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature CANR CBY Bulletin of Bibliography Critique Fall Esprit Winter Flannery O'Connor Bulletin. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. September 28, Retrieved September 28, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

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Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Cline, a homemaker. When O'Connor was twelve, her father began to experience symptoms of disseminated lupus erythematosus, a fatal disease. Witnessing her father's illness until he died in strengthened O'Connor's Roman Catholic faith. Initially working on a degree in sociology, O'Connor shifted her focus to writing. After graduating with a B. In she sold her first story, "The Geranium," to Accent magazine. During her second year at Iowa she was awarded the Rinehart Prize for part of what was to become her first novel, Wise Blood In June O'Connor received her M.

She also met lifelong friends.


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When her Yaddo friends Robert and Sally Fitzgerald moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut, in the summer of , she moved in with them. O'Connor planned to stay in the North, but in late , on her way home for Christmas, she became gravely ill. Doctors in Atlanta diagnosed her condition as lupus, the disease that had killed her father. O'Connor almost died, but the disease was arrested by massive injections of ACTH, a cortisone derivative.

It was not until the summer of that O'Connor was able to leave the hospital, too weak to climb stairs. O'Connor and her mother moved to Andalusia, the site of a dairy farm, a few miles outside Milledgeville. With her mother managing the farm, O'Connor went back to writing. When Wise Blood was published in , it created a stir. Set in the rural South, it is a story of a quest for faith, full of dark comedy, violence, and religious symbolism.

The characters are best described as grotesque. As a result of the massive doses of ACTH, O'Connor's bones were weakened to the extent that her hipbones could not support her weight, and she was forced to use aluminum crutches. Although it was difficult for her to get around, during the late s and early s O'Connor traveled to colleges and universities , lecturing to students and faculty and participating in symposia on writing.

The lectures were informative and entertaining and covered a variety of topics. For example, "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction" discusses the function of the grotesque, a major feature of her writing. Her lectures were often explanations of her novels and stories given to a bemused public.

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In she was persuaded to travel to Lourdes, France, to seek a miraculous cure for her disease. O'Connor had many visitors, and she corresponded continually with the famous and the not so famous. She was particularly generous with her time and advice for aspiring writers. Again using a bizarre set of characters, the concept of a journey to find faith, and religious symbolism and violence, O'Connor shows that humans must destroy and suffer to find themselves. The novel focuses on Protestant fundamentalism, appropriate because the author is from the Bible Belt but unusual since she is a Roman Catholic.

O'Connor explained in one of her lectures that Protestants are in closer contact with God without the mediation of the church and, therefore, subject to more intensity. Although the hero, a young adolescent, tries to fight his fate, it overtakes him. The hardships of his journey, which include experiencing death, committing murder, and being raped, cause him to be reborn into the life of the spirit.

In early , while at work on a third novel, O'Connor had an abdominal tumor removed. It was benign, but the procedure reactivated the lupus, and her kidneys were affected. When I write a novel in which the central action is a baptism, I am very well aware that for a majority of my readers, baptism is a meaningless rite, and so in my novel I have to see that this baptism carries enough awe and mystery to jar the reader into some kind of emotional recognition of its significance.

To this end I have to bend the whole novel—its language, its structure, its action. I have to make the reader feel, in his bones if nowhere else, that something is going on here that counts. Distortion in this case is an instrument; exaggeration has a purpose, and the whole structure of the story or novel has been made what it is because of belief.

This is not the kind of distortion that destroys; it is the kind that reveals, or should revea1. Once again the baptism is violent. He drowns, but we are led to believe that he has indeed left this life of sin, sorrow, and suffering for a glorious life in the Kingdom of Christ. These are doctrines that the modern secular world does not believe in.

It does not believe in sin, or in the value that suffering can have, or in eternal responsibility, and since we live in a world that since the sixteenth century has been increasingly dominated by secular thought, the Catholic writer often finds himself writing in and for a world that is unprepared and unwilling to see the meaning of life as he sees it.

This means frequently that he may resort to violent literary means to get his vision across to a hostile audience, and the images and actions he creates may seem distorted and exaggerated to the Catholic mind. The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience.

When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures. Other passages from Mystery and Manners shed light on the spiritual purpose manifested in her fiction. This helps the Grandmother accept her moment of grace moments before the Misfit puts three bullets through her chest.

Turpin for her final revelation at the pig parlor at the end of the story. Turpin receives a vision of the end of time:. A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and [her husband] Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right.


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She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior.

They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away. Her illusion of nihilism is shattered, and she may very well leave that barn a different person than she was when she entered it. In nearly all of these stories we do not know whether or not the protagonists accept their moment of grace, but we do sense that they have been exposed to something verging on the borderland of mystery. And if we read this fiction in the spirit in which it was written, our own sense of spiritual realities and spiritual mysteries will be enhanced.

Her deeply grounded and acute Christian understanding of the world made her a vigorous and effective opponent of modern secularism. She traced the secular and rationalizing tendencies of modernity back to the sixteenth century, but especially to the eighteenth century, the so-called age of Enlightenment.

Since the eighteenth century, the popular spirit of each succeeding age has tended more and more to the view that the ills and mysteries of life will eventually fall before the scientific advances of man, a belief that is still going strong even though this is the first generation to face total extinction because of these advances. In the Age of Enlightenment intellectuals began to believe in the Progress of Society and in the Perfectibility of Man.

Attracted to abstract reason and scientific materialism, modern man becomes epistemologically narrow, limited, insular, and provincial. Both the secularists and the Protestant fundamentalists in her fiction are grotesques, freaks who make some modern readers uncomfortable. The freak in modern fiction is usually disturbing to us because he keeps us from forgetting that we share in his state. To be able to recognize a freak you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological.

I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. Because the Enlightenment has had a slower dawning in the South, many Southerners still claim their patrimony. The notion of the perfectibility of man came about at the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th century. This is what the South has traditionally opposed. The South. The Liberal approach is that man has never fallen, never incurred guilt, and is ultimately perfectible by his own efforts. Therefore, evil in this light is a problem of better housing, sanitation, health, etc.

Like most of us, she appreciated many of the creature comforts and advances in medicine, but she was not willing to measure the health of the country by a materialistic yardstick.

The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor
The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor The Pain and the Decline of the South in the Stories of Flannery OConnor

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