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Title: Flannery O Conner Revelation and A Good Man is Hard to Find

Total Pages: 3 Words: 803 Works Cited: 0 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: Compare and contrast "Revelation" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Conner. The two stories can be linked by theme, narrative voice, author's style, or some other literary element, or both may be by the same author. This essay will need a thesis(some insight you gain, have gained from this comparison and contrast) and specific, balanced details from both stories to support the thesis.

Please cited things that are not common knowledge.

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: An essay explaining concept plot story A Good Man Hard Find Flannery O Connor exapmles story sources story

Total Pages: 3 Words: 1135 Bibliography: 1 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Research Paper

Essay Instructions: An essay explaining the concept of plot in the story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor - use exapmles from the story - no outside sources only story

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: Flannery O Conner's A Good Man is Hard to Find

Total Pages: 4 Words: 1576 Sources: 0 Citation Style: APA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: *****Below are the basic requirements for this paper. The resources used for this paper can ONLY be from the sources given below and citations HAVE to be used from the five resources given. PLEASE DO NOT USE ANY OTHER RESOURCES. Also, please make the main critical points about the use of comedy/humor, then foreshadowing, and finally, irony. Each paragraph has to be fully developed and approx 1/2 page to 2/3 of a page. Please feel free to call me at if there are any questions regarding this paper. My e-mail address is .
Thank you very much!!!

***RESOURCE #1***
Title Page as if in Library. Also I have created page breaks [....] so that
you can appropriately document by page.)
Short Story Criticism
Volume 1

Thomas Votteler
Total Number of Volumes in Set: 21
Gale Research, Inc.: Detroit, 1990
(Note: The editor is considered the author of the biographical data.)
Title: (Mary) Flannery O'Connor
American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.
O'Connor has won a prominent place in modern American literature. She was an anomaly among post-World War II writers--a Roman Catholic from the Bible-belt South whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God's grace in everyday life. Aware that few readers shared
her faith. O'Connor chose to depict salvation through shocking, often violent action upon characters who are spiritually or physically grotesque. "To the hard of hearing you shout," she once said, commenting on her tendency toward bizarre action and caricature, "and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures." While O'Connor used exaggeration to express her ideas, her prose style is considered compressed and brilliantly polished. Moreover, her stories are related with such ironic detachment and mordant humor that some consider them
to be existentialist or even nihilistic in outlook. O'Connor also infused her fiction with the local color and rich comic detail of her Southern milieu, particularly through Southern dialect, which she recorded with a keen ear. Finally, a complex system of symbolism and allegory adds further resonance to her body of work. While her two
novels are highly respected, commentators generallyconsider her gifts best suited to short fiction. Her post-famous volume, _The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor_, won the National Book Award in 1971, and many concur with L. Rowse's view that O'Connor is "probably the
greatest short story writer of our time."
O'Connor was the only child of devout Roman Catholics from
prominent Georgia families. She attended parochial schools in Savannah and the public high school in Milledgeville, where the family moved after her father developed disseminated lupus, the degenerative disease that Flannery was to inherit. Soon after her father's death when she
was nearly sixteen, O'Connor entered the nearby Georgia State College for Women, where she majored in social sciences. In her spare time she edited and wrote for school publications and also contributed linoleum block and woodcut cartoons that embody key characteristics of her fiction: caricature, dry irony, and a strong sense of the
absurd. O'Connor enrolled in the graduate writing program at Iowa State University, where she earned her Master's degree in 1947 with six stories, including "The Geranium," which had appeared the previous year in Accent. Throughout her career, O'Connor's stories were readily published, occasionally by popular magazines such as "Mademoiselle", but more often by prestigious literary journals including "Sewanee Review", "Shenandoah", and "Kenyon Review." The young author spent the next few years working on her first novel, _Wise Blood_, while living in 1947-48 at Yaddo writers' colony in upstate New York, then briefly in New York City, and then in Connecticut, where she boarded with her friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, a young married couple who shared her Catholic faith and literary interests. But her independent writer's life ended abruptly at age twenty-five when she suffered her first attach of lupus. From that point onward, O'Connor lived with her mother at Andalusia, a small dairy farm outside Milledgeville. While her mother ran the farm, O'Connor maintained a steady if slow writing pace, publishing _Wise Blood_ in 1952, followed by the story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find_ in 1955, and a second novel, _The Violent Bear It Away_, in 1960. Each volume attracted significant critical attention, and she was awarded three O. Henry prizes for her short stories, in addition to several grants and two honorary degrees. As her reputation grew, her circle of correspondents widened, and she traveled when her health permitted to give readings and lectures. 'Connor also enjoyed her pastimes: oil-painting and raising exotic fowl--a lifelong fascination said to reflect her interest in the grotesque. Peacocks, her particular favorites, feature in some of O'Connor's stories and bear significant symbolic weight. Even during
her final illness, a bout with lupus triggered by abdominal surgery, O'Connor wrote devotedly, and she finished her final story, "Parker's Back," just weeks before she died.
The recurrent theme in O'Connor's thirty-one short stories is that of God's grace descending in an often bizarre or violent way upon a spiritually deficient character or characters. These protagonists are most often afflicted with the sin of pride, whether the intellectual pride of the blase, rational-thinking atheist, or the materialistic pride of the smug farmer. As critics have noted, O'Connor typically depicts a rural domestic situation featuring a
parent and child who are suddenly invaded by an often criminal or perverse outsider, a distorted Christ figure who serves as the agent of grace. In one of O'Connor's best-known stories. "A Good Man Is
Hard to Find," what begins as a comic portrayal of a family vacation ends with the smugly self-complacent grandmother being shocked into spiritual awareness by a murderer who kills her family and


then her. The story exemplifies O'Connor's remark about her work: "The look of this fiction is going to be wild . . . it is almost of necessity going to be violent and comic, because of the discrepancies it seeks to combine." Critics note that O'Connor's tales, while expressing intense action, are related in concise, almost
epigrammatic prose, which is vividly expressive. Critics cite O'Connor symbols, particularly those of nature, as richly complex, so that in her fictional world, the Georgia landscape not only embodies God's grandeur, but also reflects the spiritual tone; sunsets resemble blood-drenched Eucharistic hosts, preening peacocks represent Christ's transfiguration, and the trees themselves writhe
in spiritual agony. Finally, critics praise O'Connor's skillful construction and pacing and her mastery of the traditional short story structure featuring a pronounced climax and denouement. Critics agree that O'Connor's artistic style and vision were shaped by a variety of influences. In her stark imagery, caustic satire, and use of the grotesque, she clearly follows the black humor
tradition exemplified by Nathanael West, whose novel _Miss
Lonelyhearts_ (1933) was among the twentieth-century works O'Connor most admired. O'Connor also held in high regard the nineteenth-century American romance tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Critics often trace In O'Connor's work the influence of his intricate symbolism, use of allegory, and ascetic concern with salvation. While some commentators were eager to align O'Connor with her Southern contemporaries, such as Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Erskine Caldwell, she resisted being confined to regional status, and critics now generally recognize that her aims were wholly different from those of her colleagues. Nevertheless, many critics note William Faulkner's influence in his vision of the Southern gothic and his masterful prose rhythms and cadences. Most crucial, however, and underlying all O'Connor's fiction, is her deep grounding in biblical tradition and Catholic theology, which she nurtured all her life with intense reading in not only early Catholic literature, but also works by twentieth-century Catholic apoligists.Particularly significant among modern influences were the French Catholic authors Georges Bernanos, Francois Mauriac, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose philosophical writings inspired the tile ofO'Connor's posthumous short story collection, _Everything That Rises Must Converge_.
The predominant feature of O'Connor criticism is its abundance. From her first collection, O'Connor garnered serious and widespread critical attention, and since her death the outpouring has been remarkable, including hundreds of essays and numerous full-length studies. While her work has occasioned some hostile reviews, including those which labeled her an atheist or accused her of using
the grotesque gratuitously, she is almost universally admired, if not fully understood. Apart from wide-ranging studies of her style, structure, symbolism, tone, themes, and influences, critical discussion centers most often on theological aspects of O'Connor's work. In inquiries into the depth of her religious intent, critics usually find O'Connor to be the Orthodox Christian that she adamantly
declared herself, although some, notably John Hawkes, trace the violence and sense of evil in her work to what Hawkes termed an "essential diabolicism."
Robert Fitzgerald wrote that O'Connor "was a girl who started with a gift for cartooning and satire, and found in herself a far greater gift, unique in her time and place, a marvel. She kept going deeper (this is the phrase she used) until making up stories became, for her, a way of testing and defining and conveying that superior knowledge that must be called religious." Because O'Connor expressed her religious beliefs with passion, humor, and supreme literary artistry, she holds a distinguished place among
American fiction writers.
(See also Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vols. 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 13 ,15, 21; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4R; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 3; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 2, American Novelists Since World War II; Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, 1980; and Concise Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol.1, The New Consciousness, 1941-1968).


_A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories_ 1955
_Everything That Rises Must Converge_ 1965
_*Three by Flannery O'Connor_ 1969
_Flannery O'Connor: The Complete Stories_ 1971


*****RESOURCE #2****
(Title Page as if in Library. Also I have created page breaks [....] so that
you can appropriately document by page.)
Short Story Criticism
Volume 1

Thomas Votteler

Total Number of Volumes in Set: 21

Gale Research, Inc.: Detroit 1990


Flannery O'Connor (essay date 1963)
[O'Connor delivered the following remarks at a reading she gave
at Hollins College, Virginia on 14 October 1963. In introducing
her "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," O'Connor touches upon the
function of violence and the grotesque in her fiction,
especially in relation to the characters of the Grandmother and
the Misfit in the story.]
Much of my fiction takes its character from a reasonable use of
the unreasonable, though the reasonableness of my use of it may not
always be apparent. The assumptions that underlie this use of it,
however, are those of the central Christian mysteries. These are
assumptions to which a large part of the modern audience takes
exception. About this I can only say that there are perhaps other
ways than my own in which ["A Good Man Is Hard to Find"] could be
read, but none other by which it could have been written. Belief,
in my own case anyway, is the engine that makes perception operate.
The heroine of this story, the Grandmother, is in the most
significant position life offers the Christian. She is facing death.
And to all appearances she, like the rest of us, is not too well
prepared for it. She would like to see the event postponed.
I've talked to a number of teachers who use this story in class
and who tell their students that the Grandmother is evil, that in
fact, she's a witch, even down to the cat. One of these teachers told
me that his students and particularly his Southern students, resisted
this interpretation with a certain bemused vigor, and he didn't
understand why. I had to tell him that they resisted it because
they all had grandmothers or great-aunts just like her at home,
and they knew, from personal experience, that the old lady lacked
comprehension, but that she had a good heart. The Southerner is
usually tolerant of those weaknesses that proceed from innocence,
and he knows that a taste for self-preservation can be readily
combined with the missionary spirit.
This same teacher was telling his students that morally the
Misfit was several cuts about the Grandmother. He had a really
sentimental attachment to the Misfit. But then a prophet gone wrong
is almost always more interesting than your grandmother, and you
have to let people take their pleasures where they find them.
It is true that the old lady is a hypocritical old soul; her
wits are no match for the Misfit's, nor is her capacity for grace
equal to his; yet I think the unprejudiced reader will feel that
the Grandmother has a special kind of triumph in this story which
instinctively we do not allow to someone altogether bad.

I often ask myself what makes a story work, and what makes
it hold up as a story, and I have decided that it is probably some
action, some gesture of a character that is unlike any other in the
story, one which indicates where the real heart of the story lies.
This would have to be an action or a gesture which was both totally
right and totally unexpected; it would have to be one that was both
in character and beyond character; it would have to suggest both the
world and eternity. The action or gesture I'm talking about would
have to be on the anagogical level, that is, the level which has to
do with the Divine life and our participation in it. It would be
a gesture that transcended any neat allegory that might have been
intended or any pat moral categories a reader could make. It
would be a gesture which somehow made contact with mystery.
There is a point in this story where such a gesture occurs.
The Grandmother is at last alone, facing the Misfit. Her head clears
for an instant and she realizes. even in her limited way, that she
is responsible for the man before her and joined to him by ties of
kinship which have their roots deep in the mystery she has been
merely prattling about so far. And at this point, she does the
right thing, she makes the right gesture.
I find that students are often puzzled by what she says and does
here, but I think myself that if I took out this gesture and what
she says with it, I would have no story. What was left would not be
worth your attention. Our age not only does not have a very sharp
eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer
has much feeling for the nature of the violence which precede and
follow them. The devil's greatest wile, Baudelaire has said, is
to convince us that he does not exist.


I suppose the reasons for the use of so much violence in
modern fiction will differ with each writer who uses it, but in my
own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of
returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their
moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else
will do the work. This idea, that reality is something to which
we must be returned at considered cost, is one which is seldom
understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit
in the Christian view of the world.

I don't want to equate the Misfit with the devil, I prefer to
think that, however unlikely this may seem, the old lady's gesture,
like the mustard-seed, will grow to be a great crow-filled tree in
the Misfits' heart, and will be enough of a pain to him there to turn
him into the prophet he was meant to become. But that's another story.
This story has been called grotesque, but I prefer to call
it literal. A good story is literal in the same sense that a
child's drawing is literal. When a child draws, he doesn't intend
to distort but to set down exactly what he sees, and as his gaze
is direct, he sees the lines that create motion. Now the lines of
motion that interest the writer are usually invisible. They are
lines of spiritual motion. And in this story you should be on the
lookout for such things as the action of grace in the Grandmother's
soul, and not for the dead bodies.
We hear many complaints about the prevalence of violence in
modern fiction, and it is always assumed that this violence is bad
thing and meant to be an end in itself. With the serious writer,
violence is never an end in itself. It is the extreme situation
that best reveals what we are essentially, and I believe these are
times when writers are more interested in what we are essentially
than in the tenor of our daily lives. Violence is a force which
can be used for good or evil, and among other things taken by it is
the kingdom of heaven. But regardless of what can be taken by it,
the man in the violent situation reveals those qualities least
dispensable in his personality, those qualities which are all he
will have to take into eternity with him; and since the characters
in this story are all on the verge of eternity, it is appropriate
to think of what they take with them. In any case, I hope that if
you consider these points in connection with the story, you will come
to see it as something more than an account of a family murdered
on the way to Florida. (pp.109-14)


Original Source of this Critical Summary (***Note on the Sample Student
Essay how this entry is handled (and all the other
criticisms on the Works Cited page. You must follow the
same format):

Flannery O'Connor, "On Her Own Work," in her _Mystery and Manners:
Occasional Prose_, edited by Sally Fitzgerald and Robert Fitzgerald,
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969, pp. 107-18.

*****RESOURCE #3*****
(Title Page as if in Library. Also I have created page breaks [....] so that
you can appropriately document by page.)
Short Story Criticism
Volume 1
Thomas Votteler
Total Number of Volumes in Set: 21
Gale Research, Inc.: Detroit 1990

Criticism Author: ROBERT DRAKE
(There are many other pages that he wrote; however, I have included
only that part of his criticism that deals with "A Good Man")
[Catholic] making sport with the eccentricities and grotesqueries of her
good Southern Baptist brethren. Such a charge is quite wide of the mark.
If anything, she seems to take a grim ironic pleasure in siding with
the Southern fundamentalists against the modern, will-ful intellectuals
and the genteel, self-sufficient schemers who are her greatest villains.
The Southern Baptists, the Holy Rollers may be violent or grotesque or
at times even ridiculous; but, she implies, they are a whole lot nearer
the truth than the more "enlightened" but godless intellectuals or even
the respectable do-gooders and church-goers who look on the Church as
some sort of glorified social service institution while preferring
to ignore its pricklier doctrines. Occasionally, her misguided
characters take a more muddled view, falling between these two
extremes, like Mrs. Shortley of "The Displaced Person":

She had never given much thought to the devil for she felt
that religion was essentially for those people who didn't
have the brains to avoid evil without it. For people like
herself, for people of gumption, it was a social occasion
providing the opportunity to sing; but if she had ever
given it much thought, she would have considered the devil
the head of it and God the hanger-on.
Significantly, Mrs. Shortley's son, H.C., "was going to Bible school
now and when he finished he was going to start him a church. He
had a strong sweet voice for hymns and could sell anything."
In the light of these observations, then , Miss O'Connor's major
theme should come as no surprise to us. It is that the Christian
religion is a very shocking, indeed a scandalous business
("bidness" some of her characters would say) and that its Savior
is an offense and a stumbling block, even a "bleeding stinking mad"
grotesque to many. He "upsets the balance around here"; He "puts
the bottom rail on top"; He makes the first last and the last first.
In short, He revolutionizes the whole Creation and turns the whole
world upside down, to the scandal of those who believe that two plus
two always equals four (and, with craft, possibly five) or those who
believe that they don't need any outside help (a savior) because
they're doing all right by themselves. And this Christ comes not
lamb-like and meek, as a rule, but in terrifying glory, riding
the whirlwind; He is more like Eliot's "Christ the tiger" than
gentle Jesus meek and mild. There is nothing sweet or sentimental
about Him, and He terrifies before He can bless. Jesus Christ is
finally the principal character in all Miss O'Connor's fiction,
whether offstage or, in the words and actions of her characters,
very much on. And their encounter with Him is the one story she
keeps telling over and over again.
This theme, along with several related sub-themes, constitutes
the principal burden of Miss O'Connor's work; and even when it is
not obvious, it is usually lurking in the background (like her
Christ), ready to spring out ot confront her rationalists and
do-gooders (and the reader) with it grisly imperative; "Choose you
this day whom ye will serve." And it is impossible, implies Miss
O'Connor, to blink the issue; there is no place for Laodiceans
in her world. For this reason, her fiction, though carefully
ordered, even sedate and regular in its narrative progressions,
has often the urgent intensity, the ordered ferocity, even, of a
dramatic but sober evangelistic sermon. And one feels, that, in
her continuing insistence on the immediacy and importance of the
Four Last Things, she recaptures (as indeed the fundamentalists
sects try to do) something of the pentecostal atmosphere of
the Primitive Church.
Indeed, the world of Miss O'Connor's fiction seems to wait
hourly for Judgement Day--or some new revelation or perhaps a
transfiguration, in any case, some sign that the Almighty is still
"in charge here." Exactly what the event will be is not so
important as that her world is subject ot the continuous supervision
of the Management, who makes itself known sometimes quietly and
sedately but, more often here, in a Apurifying terror."
But what about the imagery and the forms in which [Miss
O'Connor's] unsettling visions are embodied?
The discerning reader notices again and again in her works
what seems to be almost a predilection for the grotesque as
manifested in physical or mental deformity. Characters sometimes
have one leg or one arm missing, sometimes a club foot or a cast
in one eye. Sometimes they are deaf-mutes, lunatics, mental
defectives, even hermaphrodites. Frequently, also, Miss O'Connor
even manages to suggest physical or mental deformity in her
seemingly undeformed characters by comparing them or their
appurtenances to that which is inanimate or non-human--for example,
the wife in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," "whose face
was as broad and innocent as a cabbage," with her "green
head-kerchief that had two points on the top like rabbit's ears."

In [Miss O'Connor's] view, physical or mental deformity
of the outward and visible sort always suggests inner, spiritual
deformity. And when she compares man to the non-human, she is
suggesting that his efforts to assert his own will, to provide his
own "savior," make him into just that--non-human, sometimes even
inhuman. Human beings are most human and their personalities as
individuals are most nearly fulfilled, she implies, when they
remember the Source of all Humanity, the Fountain of all Life and
Light Whose creatures they are. And, for Christians, at least one
aspect of the Incarnation is God's revelation in Christ of what
true humanity, true personality can be for all of us.

[An] aspersion against Miss O'Connor, often made along with
the charge of her insistence on deformity, is that her stories have
little that is beautiful in them. True it is that Miss O'Connor's
characters often have little of physical beauty about them. And
often the natural world itself seems ugly, if not downright
sinister or hostile, with ominous turnip-shaped clouds lowering
overhead and the sun "like a furious white blister in the sky."
But more often it is not nature itself which is ugly here but,
rather, what man has made of nature.

Some of Miss O'Connor's more villainous characters. . . are apt
to look on nature as something which can be controlled and mastered,
finally perhaps even exploited. To them, it may be just one more
commodity; it certainly holds no particular mystery for them.

A quite different view is represented in the old priest of
"The Displaced Person," who marvels at the transfigured beauty of a
peacock's raised tail."


The natural world is mysterious and strange, Miss O'Connor
implies, sometimes baffling, ugly, even disgusting. In any case,
it's surely a "fallen" one. And it is for her very much as it was
for Hopkins; bleared and seared by man, wearing his smudge and sharing
his smell. But always over this brown bent world there broods the
Holy Ghost, with His warm breast and bright wings, blessing
and sanctifying our smudged world and lightening our darkness,
whether in rest and quietness or in the blinking revelation of
the Damascus Road.

Perhaps, to sum it all up, no sentence Miss O'Connor ever
wrote better embodies her attitude toward the Creation than one
Robert Fitzgerald has pointed out [in his introduction to _A Good
Man Is Hard to Find_; see Additional Bibliography] in "A Good Man
Is Hard to Find": "The trees were full of silver-white sunlight
and meanest of them sparkled." Surely, surely the operative word
here is "meanest." Miss O'Connor's view then of both man and
nature is thoroughly sacramental. If man's body, no matter how
warped or deformed, is a temple of the Holy Ghost, the earth also
is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. And man violates neither
with impunity.

Miss O'Connor's awareness of the ugly, the perverse, and the
grotesque is further reflected in her prose style, which at times
seems deliberately plain and graceless, sometimes even cacophonous.
One might almost say that she had a healthy respect for the
ugly--for all that had not been lightened, brightened, and
de-odorized by secularism and by de-humanizing "efficiency" and
"progress." For her, the Old Adam is still a pretty hairy creature.
But ugliness, like vulgarity, for which she once observed that she
had a "natural talent," is often a sign of vitality, even if it's
vitality gone wrong. And, for Miss O'Connor, ugliness was usually
preferable to the desiccated decorum of death--and damnation.
(Her lady-villains insist particularly, as a rule, on decorum.)
But such "decorum" represents not so much a clean, well-lighted
soul as it does a whited sepulchre.
Occasionally, also, Miss O'Connor's deliberate awkwardness
and cacophony of style remind one of Donne or Hopkins--a stylistic
comparison which may suggest a further, thematic resemblance to
those two poets of the warped and the skew. They, also, knew a
freak when they saw it; and they, also, knew something of the
terrible speed of mercy.
Perhaps, finally, it is with such major-minor figures in our
literature that Miss O'Connor will be ranked. Her range was narrow,
and perhaps she had only one story to tell. (But then didn't
Hemingway?) But each time she told it, she told it with renewed
imagination and cogency. From some of her remarks in conversation
a year before her death, one might have gathered that she had grown
tired of her one story, was even perhaps desperately trying to find
another one--or perhaps some new way of re-telling the old one.
Speculation about what the result of this search might have been
is, of course, profitless. But one feels almost certain that,
whatever form her possible Anew@ story might have taken, her
fundamental assumptions--and perhaps her methods--would have
remained substantially unchanged.
What is important is that she remains absolutely unique
in American fiction, more skilled perhaps as a short story writer
than as a novelist. (She does seem to lose some depth or density
of texture in the longer fictional form.) But her vision and her
methods were distinctively her own; and her rage for the holy--and
the whole --has left its indelible mark on our literature and our
literary consciousness.
What then about those readers who do not--or can not--share
Miss O'Connor's "Christian concerns"? How far can they enter into
both the substance and the shadow of her work? There does seem a
point beyond which such readers, even with the best will in the
world, finally cannot go; they cannot honestly share the theological
assumptions which are part of her donnee. Some tension in that
quarter does seem inevitable, and perhaps finally does deny her the
complete acceptance of some very discriminating readers.
Any yet, as she herself once indicated, no really good story
can be ultimately Aaccounted for@ in terms of a right theology--even
for the deeply committed Christian writer or reader. (Such a view
as this would certainly set her apart from the programmatic writer
with "Christian concerns.") If it's a good story, it's not the
theology as such which makes it so, even for the reader who is a
professing Christian. Presumably, then, what makes Miss O'Connor's
stories good and at times brilliant is that, in her own way, she
does seem to have man's number--and the world's. People are often
as she says; and they do often express themselves, in violent words
and actions, as she represents them, and not just in darkest
Georgia either.
Many non-Christian readers would have finally to agree that
Miss O'Connor's diagnosis of the human condition--or predicament--
is substantially valid; man does seem "warped" away from something,
and he does seem to need reconciling with that something somehow,
perhaps even by violent force. Furthermore, it often does appear
in this world that those who are furthest on the way to some sort
of reconciliation, nearest to some sort of ruling principle which,
after darkness and terror, makes for light and order and peace,
seem like extremely unlikely or even unappetizing customers;
they truly often seem the least of us all. For such readers,
of course, the Good News that this reconciliation is impossible
for man to achieve on his own but that it has already been made
for him in Christ is literally too good (or illogical? or absurb?)
to be true. There they must finally part company with Miss O'Connor.
But though they cannot choose here the one thing needful, they find
nevertheless that she speaks dark home truths to their hearts,
though often in a language which is foreign to them and difficult
for them to understand. But Miss O'Connor's Georgia, though often
terrible and dark, is not foreign country, finally, for any of us;
none of us, finally, is a stranger there. If it is foreign, it
is foreign only as this world itself is foreign to those of us
who feel that our "true country" lies elsewhere.
Robert Drake, in his _Flannery O'Connor: A Critical Essay_, William
B. Eerdmans/Publisher, 1966, 48 p.

****RESOURCES #4*****
(Title Page as if in Library. Also I have created page breaks [....] so that
you can appropriately document by page.)
Short Story Criticism
Volume 1
Thomas Votteler

Total Number of Volumes in Set: 21

Gale Research, Inc.: Detroit 1990


Criticism Author: THOMAS MERTON (essay date 1964)
[Merton, a French-born American writer, was strongly
interested in both Zen and Catholicism, and he
eventually became a Trappist monk. A poet, philosopher,
essayist, playwright, and translator, he is best known
for his autobiography. The Seven-Story Mountain, which
became a best-seller and brought him wide acclaim
Merton and O"Connor were friends and correspondents.
In the following memorial tribute, originally published
in Jubilee in 1964, he offers an admiring analysis of
O"Connor"s clearsightedness-a quality of ironic respect
for her subject that permeates her stories.]

Now Flannery is dead and I will write her name with honor, with
love for the great slashing innocence of that dry-eyed irony that
could keep looking the South in the face without bleeding or even
sobbing. Her South was deeper than mine, crazier than Kentucky,
but wild with no other madness than the crafty paranoia that is all
over the place, including the North! Only madder, craftier, hung
up in wilder and more absurd legends, more inventive of more
outrageous lies! And solemn! Taking seriously the need to
be respectable when one is an obsolescent and very agile fury.
The key word to Flannery"s stories probably is "respect."
She never gave up examining its ambiguities and its decay. In
this bitter dialectic of half-truths that have become endemic
to our system, she probed our very life--its conflicts, it falsities,
its obsessions, it vanities. Have we become an enormous complex
organization of spurious reverences? Respect is continually
advertised, and we are still convinced that we respect "everything
good"--when we know too well that we have lost the most elementary
respect even for ourselves. Flannery saw this and saw, better
than others, what it implied.
She wrote in and out of the anatomy of a word that became
genteel, then self-conscious, then obsessive, finally dying of
contempt, but kept calling itself "respect." Contempt for the child,
for the stranger, for the woman, for the Negro, for the animal,
for the white man, for the farmer, for the country, for the preacher,
for the city, for the world, for reality itself. Contempt,
contempt, so that in the end the gestures of respect they kept
making to themselves and to each other and to God became desperately
But respect had to be maintained. Flannery maintained it
ironically and relentlessly with a kind of innocent passion long
after it had died of contempt--as if she were the only one left who
took this thing seriously. One would think (if one put a Catholic
chip on his shoulder and decided to make a problem of her) that
she could not look so steadily, so drily and so long at so much false
respect without herself dying of despair. She never made any funny
faces. She never said: "Here is a terrible thing!" She just
looked and said what they said and how they said it. It was not
she that invented their despair, and perhaps her only way out of
despair herself was to respect the way they announced the gospel
of contempt. She patiently recorded all they had got themselves
into. Their world was a big, fantastic, crawling, exploding junk
pile of despair. I will write her name with honor for seeing it
so clearly and looking straight at it without remorse. Perhaps her
way of irony was the only possible catharsis for a madness so cruel
and so endemic. Perhaps a dry honesty like hers can save the South
more simply than the North can ever be saved.
Flannery's people were two kinds of very advanced primitives:
the city kind, exhausted, disillusioned, tired of imagining,
perhaps still given to a grim willfulness in the service of doubt,
still driving on in fury and ill will, or scientifically expert in
nastiness; and the rural kind: furious, slow, cunning, inexhaustible,
living sweetly on the verge of the unbelievable, more inclined to
prefer the abyss to solid ground, but keeping contact with the world
of contempt by raw insensate poetry and religious mirth; the mirth
of a god who himself, they suspected, and was the craftiest and
most powerful deceiver of all. Flannery saw the contempt of
primitives who admitted that they would hate to be saved, and the
greater contempt of those other primitives whose salvation was an
elaborately contrived possibility, always being brought back into
Flannery's people were two kinds of trash, able to mix inanity
with poetry, with exuberant nonsense, and with the most profound and
systematic contempt for reality. Her people knew how to be trash
to the limit, unabashed, on purpose, out of self-contempt that has
finally won out over every other feeling and turned into a parody
of freedom in the spirit. What spirit? A spirit of ungodly
stateliness and parody--the pomp and glee of arbitrary sports,
freaks not of nature but of blighted and social willfulness, rich
in the creation of respectable and three-eyed monsters. Her beings
are always raising the question of worth. Who is a good man?
Where is he? He is Ahard to find." Meanwhile you will have to make
out with a bad one who is so respectable that he is horrible, so
horrible that he is funny, so funny that he is pathetic, but so
pathetic that it would be gruesome to pity him. So funny that you
do not dare to laugh too loud for fear of demons.
And that is how Flannery finally solved the problem of respect;
having peeled the whole onion of respect layer by layer, having taken
it all apart with admirable patience, showing clearly that each layer
was only another kind of contempt, she ended up by seeing clearly that
it was funny, but not merely funny in a way that you could laugh at.
Humorous, yes, but also uncanny, inexplicable, demonic, so you could
never laugh at it as if you understood. Because if you pretended to
understand, you, too, would find yourself among her demons practicing
contempt. She respected all her people by searching for some sense
in them, searching for truth, searching to the end and then
suspending judgment. To have condemned them on moral grounds would
have been to connive with their own crafty arts and their own
demonic imagination. It would have meant getting tangled up with
them in the same machinery of unreality and of contempt. The only
way to be saved was to stay out of it, not to think, not to speak,
just to record the slow, sweet, ridiculous verbalizing of Southern
furies, working their way through their charming lazy hell.
That is why when I read Flannery, I don't think to Hemingway,
or Katherine Anne Porter, or Sartre, but rather of someone like
Sophocles. What more can be said of a writer? I write her
name with honor, for all the truth and all the craft with which
she shows man"s fall and his dishonor.


Thomas Merton , "Flannery O'Conner; A Prose Elegy," in _Critical
Essays on Flannery O"Connor_, edited by Melvin J. Friedman and
Beverly Lyon Clark, G.K. Hall & Co., pp. 68-71.

____________________________________________________________*****RESOURCE #5*****
(Title Page as if in Library. Also I have created page breaks [....] so that
you can appropriately document by page.)
Short Story Criticism
Volume 1
Thomas Votteler
Total Number of Volumes in Set: 21
Gale Research, Inc.: Detroit 1990

Criticism Author: MARTHA STEPHENS
One raises this issue of the pervasiveness of the comedy in
O'Connor not at all to prepare the reader for a tired struggle with
this generic term, but because the tonal dimension in O'Connor is
an important critical issue and because it is directly related to
the central fact about this writer with which we have been
dealing--the fact that she is a highly doctrinal writer whose
view of human life often seems to modern readers strange and
eccentric in the extreme. Such terms as comedy, farce, tragedy
are, of course, loaded words in more ways than one. Those who see
O'Connor as "a comic writer" can certainly find plenty of
O'Connor's own statements to quote to their advantage. There is
her famous statement about _Wise Blood_, that it was to her a
"comic novel" but--and surely this is to beg the question--"like
all comic novels" about "matters of life and death." There is an
even stranger statement which describes as "comic" the bizarre
and, surely for most readers, ultimately painful story "A Good Man
Is Hard to Find." It is this latter story that I wish to pause
here to examine in detail.
"A Good Man Is Hard to Find" is a story that contains
some of the best O'Connor comedy but which ends in a highly
unsatisfactory way; and the failure of the final scene--and hence
of the story--seems to result from the fact that a tonal shift that
occurs midway through the story finally runs out of control. The
story is interesting for our purposes in that we get a clearer view
here than anywhere else of the tonal problem that exists in one
degree or another in nearly all of O'Connor's fiction--the problem,
that is, of how to "take," how to react to, the disasters that
befall her characters.
"A Good Man Is Hard to Find" divides, in terms of the time
it encompasses, into two parts. The opening page of the story
describes the grandmother's attempt to get the family to go to
Tennessee instead of Florida on their vacation; this serves as a
kind of brief prologue to the rest of the tale, all of which takes
place the following day as the family begins its fatal trip to Florida.
Plainly it is a comic view of the family that we get in the
first half of the story--and it is rich comedy indeed. The comedy
issues, as it often does in O'Connor, from the author's dry,
deadpan, seemingly unamused reporting of the characters' hilarious
actions and appearance. Like many good modern comedies, the story
is, in other words, all the funnier for not appearing to be
told in a funny way. The grandmother of course, is the largest
and funniest figure, and she is the character from whose point of
view the tale unfolds.
[We] relish the comical side of the grandmother' s character:
her busy-body backseat driving--which so infuriates her ill-natured
son Bailey ("He didn't have a naturally sunny disposition like she
did."); her awful humor (" 'Where's the plantation?' John Wesley
asked, 'Gone with the Wind,' said the grandmother."); the
inevitable childlike recounting of her early courting days ("She
would have done well to marry Mr. Tea-garden because he was a
gentleman and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out.").
But for all the grandmother's innocence and absurdity, one's
feelings about her are by no means totally negative. If she is not
endowed with insight into the eternal scheme of things--well, what
of that? It is certainly possible to feel affection for the
grandmother--though one may not be sure, as he reads, whether
against the grain of the story or not. And yet surely there are
lines and passages where the story is designedly setting our
sympathies astir. The grandmother has a liveliness, curiosity,
and responsiveness that the others seem to lack. Her true delight
in telling stories ("she rolled her eyes and waved her head and was
very dramatic") and in watching June Star dance ("the grandmother's
eyes were very bright. . . . she swayed her head from side to side")
does not cast her in an ugly light. And the tone of such a passage
as this, for instance, where she plays with the baby, is hardly
ambiguous: "The grandmother offered to hold the baby and the
children's mother passed him over the front seat to her. She
set him on her knee and bounced him and told him about the things
they were passing. She rolled her eyes and screwed up her mouth
and stuck her leathery thin face into his smooth bland one.
Occasionally he gave her a faraway smile." It is the grandmother,
moreover, who sees the beauties of the Georgia landscape--the
"blue granite," for instance, "that in some places came up to
both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly
streaked with purple; and the various crops that made rows of
green lacework on the ground."
[All] in all, the comedy of the grandmother's portrait
is not wholly without warmth, is not totally abusive and satiric.
Certainly one cannot view the grandmother as one whose malignity
of soul is such that one can welcome--be amused by, or, let us say,
accept in a comic spirit--her fatal comeuppance at the hands of
the Misfit. There is not, in other words, such heavy stylization,
such gross distortion, in the characterization of the old lady
that one's distance from her is great enough to preclude any pain
that her tortured death might bring. Indeed, there is everywhere
in the first part of this story the most scrupulous comic realism.
It is the averageness, the typicality of this old grandmother that
is no nicely caught by the story.
[What we have in the story until the family's car wreck] is
a skillful and richly entertaining domestic comedy of a not very
lighthearted if not totally abusive kind . . . . [If] it crosses
our minds, as we read, to wonder at all where the story is heading
(and because O'Connor always seems to have her tales so well in hand,
usually it doesn't cross our minds), the actual appearance of a
death-dealing Misfit does not seem a very likely possibility. Some
final sumptuous comic irony--harmlessly or indirectly involving,
perhaps, the real or an imagined Misfit--is probably what one
half-consciously expects.
Then the story breaks in two. Behind the [car] wrecked family,
sitting paralyzed with fear and shock in the ditch, the woods,
which seen a few hours ago from the highway were full of
silver-white sunlight, are now described as "tall and dark and deep."
After the arrival of the convicts, the line of woods behind them
will be said in fact to gape "like a wide open mouth"; and when the
first member of the family is taken off to the woods and shot,
the wind will seem to the grandmother "to move through the tree
tops like a long satisfied insuck of breath." A very different
story indeed!
What is the reader to think or feel about anything in the
massacre scene? There is pain and shock but much that mocks that
pain and shock--the heavy comedy, for instance, indeed one might say
the almost burlesque treatment, of the three killers. There is the
feeling that though we cannot help but pity the tormented family,
the story continues to demand our contempt for them. One feels that
somehow the central experience of the story--in spite of the
affecting, the chilling details surrounding these deaths, in spite
even of the not altogether abusive treatment of the grandmother in
Part One--will elude anyone who gives way to these feelings of pain
and pity. If the writer's tasks is, as Conrad said, to make us
"see," what is here to be seen? Surely not that life is wholly
senseless and contemptible and that our fitting end is in
senseless pain.
Looking at the narrative skeleton of the story again,
having corrected our original notion of it after reading the final
half, what now do we have? An ordinary and undistinguished family,
a family even comical in its dullness, ill-naturedness, and
triviality, sets out on a trip to Florida and on an ordinary
summer day meets with a terrible fate. In what would the interest
of such a story normally lie? Perhaps, one might think, in
something that is revealed about the family in the way it meets
its death, in some ironical or interesting truth about the nature
of those people or those relationships--something we had been prepared
unbeknownst to see, at the end plainly dramatized by their final
common travail and death. But obviously, as regards the family as
a whole, no such thing happens. The family is shown to be in death
just as ordinary and ridiculous as before. With the possible
exception of the grandmother, we know them no better; nothing about
them of particular significance is brought forth.
The grandmother, being . . . the last to die, suffers the
deaths of all her family while carrying on the intermittent
conversation with the Misfit, and any reader will have some dim
sense that it is through this encounter that the story is trying
to transform and justify itself. One senses that this conversation
--even though our attention is in reality fastened upon the horrible
acts that are taking place in the background (and apparently
against the thrust of the story)--is meant to be the real center
of the story and the part in which the Apoint," as it were, of the
whole tale lies.
But what is the burden of that queer conversation between the
Misfit and the grandmother; what power does it have, even when we
retrospectively sift and weigh it line by line, to transform our
attitude towards the seemingly gratuitous--in terms of the art of
the tale--horror of the massacre? The uninitiated reader will not,
most likely, be able to unravel the strange complaint of the killer
without some difficulty, but when we see the convict's peculiar
dilemma in the context of O'Connor's whole work and what is known
of her religious thought, it is not difficult to explain.
The Misfit's most intriguing statement--the line that
seemingly the reader must ponder, set as it is the final
pronouncement on the grandmother after her death--is from the
final passage . . . "She would of been a good woman if it had
been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."
Certainly we know from the first half of the story that the
grandmother has seen herself as a good woman--and a good woman
in a day when good men and women are hard to find, when people
are disrespectful and dishonest, when they are not nice like they
used to be. The grandmother is not common but a lady . . . .
A good woman, perhaps we are given to believe, is one who
understands the worthlessness and emptiness of being or not being
a "lady," of having or not having Coca-Cola stock, of "being
broad" and seeing the world, of good manners and genteel attire.
"Woe to them," said Isaish,"that are wise in their own eyes, and
prudent in their own sight." The futility of all the
grandmother's values, the story strives to encapsulate in this
image of her disarray after the car has overturned and she has
recognized the Misfit: "The grandmother reached up to adjust her
hat brim as if she were going to the woods with him but it came
off in her hand. She stood staring at it and after a second
she let it fall on the ground."
The Misfit is a figure that seems, one must say to the
story's credit, to have fascinated more readers than any other
single O'Connor character, and it is by contrast with the
tormented spiritual state of this seeming monster that the nature
of the grandmother's futile values becomes evident. We learn that
the center of the Misfit's thought has always been Jesus Christ,
and what becomes clear as we study over the final scene is that
the Misfit has, in the eyes of the author, the enormous
distinction of having at least faced up to the problem of Christian
belief. And everything he has done--everything he so monstrously
does here--proceeds from his inability to accept Christ, to
truly believe. . . . The crucial modern text for the authorial
view here, which belongs to a tradition in religion-literary though
sometimes referred to as the sanctification of the sinner, is
T.S. Eliot's essay on Baudelaire, in which he states: "So far as
we are human, what we do must be either evil or good; so far as
we do evil or good, we are human; and it is better, in a
paradoxical way, to do evil than to do nothing; at least, we exist.
It is true that the glory of man is his capacity for salvation;
it is also true to say that his glory is his capacity for damnation."
Thus observe how, in the context of these statements,
"A Good Man Is Hard to Find" begins to yield its meaning. What
O'Connor has done is to take, in effect, Eliot's maxim--"It is
better, in a paradoxical way, to do evil than to do nothing"
--and to stretch our tolerance of this idea to its limits. The
conclusion that one cannot avoid is that the story depends, for
its final effect, on our being able to appreciate--even to be
startled by, to be pleasurably struck with--the notion of the
essential moral superiority of the Misfit over his victims, who
have lived without choice or commitment of any kind, who have in
effect not "lived" at all.

But again, in what sense is the grandmother a "good woman"
in her death, as the Misfit claims? Here even exegesis falters.
Because in her terror she calls on the name of Jesus, because she
exhorts the Misfit to pray. Is she "good" because as the old lady
sinks fainting into the ditch, after the Misfit's Jesus
speech . . . , she mumbles, "Maybe he didn't raise the dead"?
Are we to see her as at last beginning to face the central
question of human existence; did God send his son to save the
world? Perhaps there is a clue in the dead grandmother's final
image; she is said to half lie and half sit "in a puddle of blood
with her legs crossed under her like a child's and her face
smiling up at the cloudless sky." For Christ said, after all,
that "whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little
child shall in no wise enter herein."
To see that the Misfit is really the one courageous and
admirable figure in the story; that the grandmother was perhaps
--even as he said--a better woman in her death that she had ever
been; to see that the pain of the other members of the family,
that any godless pain or pleasure that human beings may experience
is, beside the one great question of existence, unimportant--to see
all these things is to enter fully into the experience of the story.
Not to see them is to find oneself pitted not only against the forces
that torture and destroy the wretched subjects of the story, but
against the story itself and its attitude of indifference to and
contempt for human pain.
Now as it happens, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" was a
favorite story of O'Connor's . . . . The intrusion of grace in
"A Good Man Is Hard to Find" comes, Miss O'Connor said [see excerpt
dated 1963], in that much-discussed passage in which the
grandmother, her head suddenly clearing for a moment, murmurs
to the Misfit, "Why, you're one of my babies. You're one of my own
children!" and is shot just as she reaches out to touch him.
The grandmother's gesture here is what, according to O'Connor,
makes the story work; it shows that the grandmother realizes that
"she is responsible for the man before her and joined to him by
ties of kinship which have their roots deep in the mystery she has
been merely prattling about so far," and it affords the grandmother
"a special kind of triumph . . . which we instinctively do not
allow to someone altogether bad."
This explanation does solve, in a sense, one of the riddles of
this odd story--although, of course, one must say that while it is
interesting to know the intent of th author, speaking outside the
story and after the fact, such knowledge does not change the fact
that the intent of the narrator manifested strictly within the story
is damagingly unclear on this important point. And what is even more
important here is that O'Connor's statement about the story, taken
as a whole, only further confirms the fact that the tonal problem
in this tale is really a function of our difficulty with O'Connor's
formidable doctrine. About the Misfit, O'Connor says that while
he is not to be seen as the hero of the story, yet his capacity for
grace is far greater than the grandmother's and that the author
herself prefers to think "that the old lady's gesture, like the
mustard-seed, will grow to be a great crow-filled tree in The
Misfit's heart, and will be enough of a pain to him there to turn
him into the prophet he was meant to become" [see excerpt dated 1963].
The capacity for grace of the other members of the family is
apparently zero, and hence--Christian grace in O'Connor, one cannot
help noting, is rather an expensive process--it is proper that their
deaths should have no spiritual context whatever.


[In O'Connor], to shock, confuse, and frighten the reader
seems to be part of the authorial strategy. No one, I think, can
now doubt that Flannery O'Connor saw herself as a writer with a gift
of prophecy. In one of the last speeches Miss O'Connor made before
her death, she said: "The Lord doesn't speak to novelist as He did
to his servant Moses, mouth to mouth. He speaks to him as He did
to those two complainers, Aaron and Aaron's sister Mary; through
dreams and visions, in fits and starts, and by all the lesser ways
of the imagination." The Lord may not speak this way or that--
but he speaks! Her work must certainly be seen as, whatever else
it is, a message and a warming, in the same way that the work of
Bunyan is--and of Bernanos, Wright, and Lawrence--and in the way
that the work of, say, Joyce, Faulkner, Warren, and
Hemingway, is not.
O'Connor was continually deploring, in her public statements,
the absence of common assumptions between herself and her secular
readers; one sees over and over again a writer brooding on the
radical differences in the Catholic (or, let us say, the
religious-intuitive) and the secular views of the world and
on what these differences imply for her art. "The Catholic
novelist believes," she said, "that you destroy your freedom by
sin; the modern reader believes, I think, that you gain it
that way."
[Most] of the O'Connor short stories can be viewed as
admonitory parables. "There was once a proud woman of great
estate," some of them seem to go, "and this woman believed that
the name of her savior should only be said in church." The
reader must learn to see himself in the absurd and deluded
O'Connor characters--in the family of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find,"
for instance, in Julian and Mrs. May. As the radio evangelists
continue to tell their "lest-nin' audiences" every day: "You got
to know you're lost before you can be saved--you got to see your
condition for what it is." And if a writer must use harsh and
violent means to wrench the unbeliever from his sweet bed of
illusions, then he must.
Be all this as it may, what has been particularly
troublesome about much of the O'Connor criticism of the past decade
has been the assumption that merely by virtue of their power to
pain and shock and disturb, the O'Connor stories are somehow good
stories. But surely it takes only a moment's reflection to remind
us that a story that appalls and shocks may or mat not be a good
story; the crudest, most fragmented accounts of human events--
accounts that depict, for instance, however artlessly, terrifying
scenes of pain and death--have the power to stun and frighten.
The excesses of the modern film in this regard have taught many of
us to regard the aesthetically meaningless use of pain and shock
with particular disgust. One does not mean to say that O'Connor's
depiction of human suffering is--in terms of the author's peculiar
point of view--gratuitous; the reader's frustration comes from not
being able to share, from being, indeed, sometimes repelled by,
the authorial attitude towards the events described.
There is a sense in which. as I have suggested, the O'Connor
stories are designed as calculated affronts to humanistic thought.
One often has the feeling, in reading an O'Connor story, of being
initially quite in harmony with the authorial viewpoint, of enjoying
the story exactly in the way it seemed meant to be enjoyed, and
then of being--often almost without warning--shaken violently off
the track, so that one feels almost deliberately shut out from the
final, and thus the overall, experiences of the story. This state
of affairs is disconcerting indeed; for one assumes that the power
that the narrative artist has generally strived to acquire has been
the power finally to accomplish the full sction of the reader,
to bring him finally into full and exciting union with the teller
of the tale.
And yet of course, even with O'Connor, the aim really was to
make the reader see, above all the futility of his life and the
saving power of Christ; but many of us are simply too far gone
in anthropocentric irreligiosity to make very good pupils for
such a course of study. Much of the Christian art of the past
still has, of course, the power to make us feel, if not the truth,
at least the beauty and appeal of a certain side of Christian
thought, of its doctrine, for instance, of a loving savior in whom
all one's pain and failure can be laid; one thinks, for instance,
of the gentle Christian lyricism of the poet Hopkins, and of the
shattering drunken monologue of the wretched Marmeladov in Crime
and Punishment. Christian art is not dead for us, and there would
still seem to be a great deal of common ground between humanistic
Christian thought and secular humanism for the Christian artist
to occupy if he can. But perhaps the crucial word here is
"humanistic." For certainly O'Connor's Christian faith was as
grim and literalistic, as joyless and loveless a faith, at least
as we confront it in her fiction, as we have ever seen in
American letters--even, perhaps, in American theology.
And yet with all that one has now said about the
philosophical and tonal dilemma in O'Connor, there is also a
great deal to say positively about her art . . . . One can be
sure that O'Connor felt, along with the temptation simply to
punish and outrage her rationalist readers, a deep desire to
communicate a vision of life the oddness of which no one was
more aware of than she herself. A strategy for finding some
common ground between herself and her readers did certainly exist
in her work and was often highly successful.


Martha Stephens, in her _The Question of Flannery O'Connor_,
Louisiana State University Press, 1973, 205 p.


Excerpt From Essay:

Essay Instructions: For your first Individual Project, you will be analyzing two short stories, ?Love in L.A.? and ?A Good Man is Hard to Find,? in terms of their similarities and differences.

Please write a comparison/contrast essay of 1000 words or more discussing the questions below. Remember to begin your paper with an engaging introduction and clear thesis statement, develop each point in the body of your paper using examples and quotes from the stories, and conclude your paper with a restatement of your thesis and closing remarks. Also, be sure to maintain your credibility by including in-text citations and a reference list correctly formatted in APA style.

Setting: In many ways the two short stories are set in radically different times and places. There is, however, at least one commonality that both settings share. Discuss the differences and at least similarity.
?Love in L.A.:? Describe Jake, the main character. What kind of man is he? Is he the story?s protagonist or antagonist? Explain your answer. Describe Mariana. How does she perceive her interactions with Jake? In what ways are his intentions different from hers?
?A Good Man is Hard to Find:? Discuss the personalities and motives (i.e., what does each seem to want?) of the following characters: the grandmother, Bailey, the children?s mother, the children, Red Sammy Butts, The Misfit, and the other two escaped criminals.
?Love in L.A.:? Both the car and freeway are symbolic in this story. What is the deeper meaning of each?
?A Good Man is Hard to Find:? What do each of these symbolize: the grandmother?s hat, the town of Toomsboro (hint: ?Toom? sounds strikingly similar to another word) and The Misfit?s car?
Themes: What are the main themes/messages of each piece? What, in other words, do you think the authors, Dagoberto Gilb and Flannery O?Connor, are trying to communicate about life and human nature in their respective stories?
Tone: What does Gilb?s tone seem to reveal about his attitude toward the characters and plot in ?Love in L.A.?? Likewise, what does O?Connor?s tone seem to tell us about her attitude toward the characters and plot in ?A Good Man is Hard to Find??
Irony: In what ways do the titles of both stories contain irony?
Moral Codes: (A moral code is an individual?s internal set of beliefs and principles that guides their conduct toward others. Everyone has a moral code, although not everyone?s behavior is necessarily ?moral? or law-abiding.)
?Love in L.A.:? What is Jakes? moral code? Elaborate on your answer, using at least two examples from the story to support your opinion.
?A Good Man is Hard to Find:? By what moral codes do the grandmother and The Misfit live by? What external influences (upbringing, faith, experiences, etc.) have shaped their codes? Discuss the ?goodness? (or lack thereof) of both characters. Do they or anyone else in the story qualify as a ?good man?? Why or why not?
Final Thoughts: Literature intersects with many areas of our lives, often providing commentary on cultural norms, and?in the case of the O?Connor story?the influence of religion on individuals and societies. In what ways has reading ?Love in L.A.? and ?A Good Man is Hard to Find? impacted your own views on love, ?goodness? and religious faith?

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