Flannery O’connor Essay

1190 words - 5 pages

Flannery O’Connor was fond of saying, “When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.” O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, but spent the bulk of her life in Milledgeville, and it is her Southern heritage that influenced her and made her writing extremely distinctive in the history that is American literature. As a Roman Catholic in the Protestant-majority South, she was often confronted with the differences between the surroundings and herself, a theme that often comes up in her writing. O’Connor was diagnosed with Lupus, an inherited disease that also killed her father, so she was constantly aware of her own impending death. It is because of this that so many of her fiction short stories have to do with death and the grace that can be found in the face of it. Flannery O’Connor is a remarkable twentieth century American writer, who was influenced by her religion and her heritage, wrote awe-inspiring fiction with unique characters, and made considerable and relevant contributions to American literature.
Flannery O’Connor’s writing was greatly influenced by a vital mentor during her college years, her Southern heritage, and her Catholic faith. After growing up with her family in Milledgeville, Georgia, O’Connor attended Georgia State College for Women, just one block from her home. After receiving her degree from the university, O’Connor met with Paul Engle, director of the University’s Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa , who was immediately impressed with her writing and encouraged her enrollment (Scott 45). O’Connor’s talent was greatly recognized here and was encouraged by both Engle and classmates. O’Connor’s Southern heritage was another element that inspired her to write. “Southerners tend to pay attention to formalities and social amenities that in other parts of the country have ceased to or never did exist” (Grimshaw 15). O’Connor borrowed these characteristics from her life and used them in the complex characters she would later create. Her Catholic faith is another point that drove O’Connor’s writing, especially given that she grew up in a Protestant-majority region. “Flannery O'Connor put much conscious thought into her dual role of Catholic and fiction writer” (Galloway). Her devout faith plays a huge role in her writing, as most of her characters grapple with salvation and grace. O’Connor’s influences in life were so powerful, they became the same topics that impacted her philosophy in writing.
Flannery O’Connor’s philosophy of writing was directly related to her life and roots as a Southerner, a Catholic, and a woman. One of the Southern traditions that O’Connor used most in her writing was local customs and manners which make people laughable. “Exaggeration of characteristics and of incidents is one cause of our laughter in O’Connor’s stories” (Grimshaw 89). She would regularly expose the hypocrisy of character’s thoughts by exaggerating their ridiculous actions in moments of distress causing...

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