Religion In The Works Of Flannery O'connor

2001 words - 8 pages

Religion in the Works of Flannery O'Connor

     Religion is a pervasive theme in most of the literary works of the late Georgia writer Flannery O'Connor. Four of her short stories in particular deal with the relationship between Christianity and society in the Southern Bible Belt: "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," "The River," "Good Country People," and "Revelation." Louis D. Rubin, Jr. believes that the mixture of "the primitive fundamentalism of her region, [and] the Roman Catholicism of her faith . . ." makes her religious fiction both well-refined and entertaining (70-71). O'Connor's stories give a grotesque and often stark vision of the clash between traditional Southern Christian values and the ever-changing social scene of the twentieth century. Three of the main religious ingredients that lend to this effect are the presence of divine meanings, revelations of God, and the struggle between the powers of Satan and God.

The divine symbols in O'Connor's works tend to be mostly apocalyptic in nature, exhibiting drastic cases of societal breakdown in a religious context, but occasionally, they show prophetic hope. John Byars states that:

She presents two contradictory images of society in most of her fiction: one in which the power and prevalence of evil seem so deeply embedded that only destruction may root it out, and another in which the community or even an aggregate of individuals, though radically flawed, may discover within itself the potential for regeneration. (34)

In all four of the mentioned stories, this presence of Christian signs-of-the-times can be seen. Set in the early fifties, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" tells of the murder of a vacationing Georgia family by an escaped felon called the Misfit. Byars views the Misfit as an apocalyptic symbol because of his adamant denial of Christ and his brutal shooting of the family (37). "The River" has an example of prophetic meaning presented by the religious babysitter, Mrs. Connin, when she refuses to accept money from the cynical and careless parents of Bevel. Byars believes this action displays the belief that God's goodness will show through in some people, even in an evil world (38). David Eggenschwiler identifies an apocalyptic vision in "Good Country People" as the supposedly devout Bible salesman takes advantage of Hulga in the barn and steals her wooden leg. In this bizarre scene, his monstrous behavior rapidly forces the atheistic Hulga to deal with a situation that is far more corrupt than her own beliefs (56-57). Finally, Byars states, "O'Connor peoples her world with terrible apocalyptic beasts, an `old wart hog from hell . . .'" (37). Wart hog is the name that the bigoted Ruby Turpin is called in "Revelation," after she is physically attacked by the angry college student, Mary Grace.

Closely tied to the divine presence in O'Connor's stories are the revelations that are brought about by these events. According to Nathan Scott, Jr., Hulga's revelation in...

Find Another Essay On Religion in the Works of Flannery O'Connor

The Character of Hulga in Good Country People by Mary Flannery O'Connor

1096 words - 4 pages The Character of Hulga in Good Country People by Mary Flannery O'Connor   By definition joy means a great feeling of pleasure and happiness. In Mary Flannery O'Connor's short story Good Country People, Joy Freeman was not at all joyful. Actually, she was the exact opposite. Joy's leg was shot off in a hunting accident when she was ten. Because of that incident, Joy was a stout girl in her thirties who had never danced a step or had any

Symbolization in the Good Country People by Flannery O'Connor

1616 words - 7 pages . Hopewell is Joy-Hulga’s mother, she is very hopeful that her daughter would be something in life but Joy has other visions for herself. Mrs. Freeman works on the farm and her name symbolizes that she is more of a free spirit she tends to live in reality and she is able to see exactly who Joy-Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell really are. In the story a young man named Manly Pointer comes to the farm and says that he is a bible salesman. Mrs. Hopewell assumes he

Comparison: Pieces of Flannery O'Connor

1783 words - 8 pages Flannery O’Connor was an extremely revered author for his writing techniques that may be examined throughout almost all of his pieces, especially in: “Everything That Rises Must Converge” and “Greenleaf”. Both of these short stories hone in on the two most controversial topics in societal history: religion and race. And with that, “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, a short story in the collection Everything That Rises Must Converge, is a

Flannery O'Connor and the gruesome September 11th

1377 words - 6 pages ENC 1101 HDecember 4, 2002Willin' GraceIn an instant, the gruesome September 11th terrorist attack placed ordinary people trapped on the upper floors of the World Trade Center at the edge of eternity. Some of them made the choice to join hands and leap to their certain death from the upper floors of the twin towering infernos. Perhaps it is at this moment that these people made contact with mystery. Flannery O'connor explores this mystery in her

The Essex and Hazel Motes in Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

1809 words - 7 pages The Essex and Hazel Motes in Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor In her 1952 novel Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor presents Hazel Motes's Essex automobile as a symbol for Hazel himself. The car's dilapidated state corresponds to Motes's own spiritual decay; however, the initial quality of the car's workmanship corresponds to Hazel's Christian upbringing, which he cannot deny in spite of himself. Motes's identification with and reliance upon his

The essay is called "The Clues O'Connor Provides". It is about the use of foreshadowing in the short story of "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" by Flannery O'Connor

1004 words - 4 pages of foreshadowing hints to the reader that the family will meet up with the Misfit and their fate on their journey to Florida.From the very start of the story, Flannery O'Connor, begins to use foreshadowing. In the first line she writes, "The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind." This statement casts a doubt to the

Tone and attitude of "The Life You Save may be Your Own, " Flannery O'Connor

526 words - 2 pages In "The Life You Save may be Your Own," Flannery O'Connor descriptively characterizes the battles within oneself with the characters of Mrs. Crater, Tom Shiftlet, and Lucynell Crater. The realistic and truthful tones of their actions suggest that through personal obstacles and flaws, triumph can be obtain by being truthful. All three characters of the story are realistic and truthful in a different way.Mrs. Crater could be considered the most

Essay on Religion in the Works of William Shakespeare

1742 words - 7 pages Religion in the Works of Shakespeare     The purpose of this essay is to explore the religious nature of William Shakespeare's plays. This essay covers three topics surrounding Shakespeare's work: the religious climate of 16th Century England, Shakespeare's upbringing (school, parents, & Stratford itself), and a brief introduction into the impact his society and upbringing had upon his work.   I. THE RELIGIOUS CLIMATE OF 16TH

A Violent Illumination of Salvation. Speaks of Flannery O'Connor

1694 words - 7 pages Flannery O'Connor uses violence to return characters to reality and prepare them to accept their moment of grace. The New Encyclopedia Britannica defines grace as the 'spontaneous, unmerited gift of the divine or the divine influence operating in man for his regeneration and sanctification' (401). At any cost, a soul must find salvation. O'Connor states, 'In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my

Flannery O'Connor In "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

1280 words - 5 pages Flannery O'Connor was born in Georgia in 1925 during the Great Depression. She was an only child, brought up in a highly religious home, and grew up in the South. These aspects of her life become apparent when reading her short stories. O'Connor's most famed story; "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" follows an obscure family on their vacation to Florida. She uses life, as she knows it, to convey a world that she believes exists. "What she learned as a

Relationships in Good Country People, by Flannery O'Connor

2561 words - 10 pages characters, and what is revealed about them at the end of the story proves it. The facades they put on are as essential to "Good Country People" as the mindless conversations between Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell. The relationships between these four characters are what make "Good Country People" such a literary success.     Works Cited Asals, Frederick. Flannery O'Connor : The Imagination of Extremity. University of Georgia

Similar Essays

The Holy Conradictions Of Flannery O'connor A Literary Overview And Analysis Of Flannery O'connor's Usage Of Symbolism And Religion In "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

1431 words - 6 pages was quoted for saying this he was referring to authors such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and of course Flannery O'Connor, the southern catholic raised woman who revolutionized literature with her religious messages poignant in her works. O'Connor used imagery including controversial issues such as prejudice, superficiality of manners, and gods position in a world of sin to assist her in her goal to wow the world into

The Life Of Flannery O'connor Essay

1206 words - 5 pages insight on the life of O’Connor and her religious devotion. People could also see the funny personality of O’Connor. This book won several awards (Gordon 1). In one of Flannery O’Connor’s works, “A Good Man is Hard To Find,” the life of O’Connor is shown. Her parents raised her to live out the Catholic identity. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the Catholic way of life. The grandma in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” believes she can trust

The Humor Of Flannery O'connor Essay

1826 words - 7 pages Webster's online dictionary defines humor as "a quality that appeals to a sense of the ludicrous (laughable and/or ridiculous) or incongruous." Incongruity is the very essence of irony. More specifically, irony is "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected result." Flannery O'Connor's works are masterpieces in the art of literary irony, the laughable and ridiculous. The incongruous situations, ridiculous

Poems Of Flannery O'connor Essay

1317 words - 5 pages Intro to Literature March 17, 2001 Is a Good Revelation Hard to Find? Flannery O'Connor's views on society and life are forever imprinted through her work; she paints a vivid picture of ignorant southern middle class families. In "A Good Man is Hard to Find", O'Connor presents the reader with a southern family going on a road trip with their self-centered grandmother. Complications arise when the family has a deadly encounter with an escaped