Flannery O Conner Essay, Research Paper
If you try to get more from a writer than what you seen on the page , usually
depends on the writer and their ability to make you see, and of course your own
imagination. When the writers stories are so different and the characters are so clear,
you sometimes think you know something about that writer and who they were. People
say that a writer can be found in their words. However, some writers are good writers
not only because of their words and works. One writer that goes beyond words is a
writer that we have recently read a story on. Flannery O? Connor. The contradictions of
violence and faith in her fiction distinguishes her among Southern writers and make
one wonder who she was and where she was from.
O? Connor?s life greatly influenced her work. Born in Savannah, Georgia, O?
Connor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women and the State University
of Iowa (now called the University of Iowa). Most of her life was spent in
Milledgeville, Georgia, where she raised peacocks and wrote. O?Connor?s work , of
two novels and two volumes of short stories, has been described as an unlikely mixture
of southern Gothic , prophecy and evangelistic Roman Catholicism. In many of her
stories she included rural settings from her homeland. For example ?Good Country
People? takes place in rural Georgia. Flannery used her well-known writing styles of
grotesque humor in the stories she wrote , including ?Good Country People?. Unlike
most of the writers from the South Flannery probably would not have wanted to be
found. She was rather quiet in her lifetime and enjoyed the solitude of her home in
Milledgeville, Georgia. It seemed as if there were a part of her that wanted to remain
mysterious and unfound. After reading some of her fiction like ?Good Country People?
you can see the humorous side she pokes at the world and herself. Her writing , often
deep, dark and violent has a flip side it is also humorous. Flannery O? Connor remains
a powerful voice in literature today. Before her tragic death which claimed her young
life at the age of 39, she had written two novels and thirty-two short stories. as well as
commentaries and reviews. She died from Lupus, the same disease which shortened
the life of her father. O? Connor?s work has not always been understood completely
and appreciated for her unique and powerful themes. Many critics did not like her first
novel, Wise Blood , positively because of its seemingly strange themes and characters.
However, there was someone who gave her good reviews. Flannery was glad to hear
that there was someone who understood her novel and liked it, therefore, she wrote to
Brainard Cheney to thank him herself. Later, many times they Cheneys, would visit
Flannery at Andalusia, her mother?s home just outside Milledgeville or Flannery would
repay the visit at their home on symyrna, Tennessee called Cold Chimneys. They
exchanged many letters between them on various subjects, many times it was reading
and giving feedback to each other?s work. Not only did they share their love of writing
and learning, but they were ?Catholic Intillectualists in the heart of the South?.
Flannery had been a devout Catholic all her life yet was raised in a predominately
Protestant geographical area. The Cheney?s were relatively new to the world of
Catholicism since their conversion and kidding between them would often take place.
Brainard Chenney had been an ex-Protestant. Who found his way back to the Church.
O? Connor?s stories combine her Southern Cultural heritage and it?s people behind her
religious and biblical imagery as well as violence.
There seem to be no middle ground for her. Things are black and white
according to O?Connor; ?there is a road to be taken and one that should be avoided.?
O? Conners world was that way. In this sense, it is simplistic to either live truly and
according to one?s convictions or not. She also exposes the deceit and hypocrisy in
religious institutions through her characters. Through the dark humor and comical
overlay of her stories, lies a obvious meaning. The violence, at times, seems as if she
were using it to exaggerate her point. In other words, she was trying to shock people
into awareness to see a larger, more important truth. Yet at other times the violence
comes as a complete surprise, almost senseless, unnecessary. O? Connor?s writing style
is unaffected like many of the Southern towns, characters and townspeople she writes
about. However, her style delivers a pointed sword in the reader?s conscious, as a
result , making you look closer at what she is trying to say. To me, it?s a strange
mixture for a devout Catholic to write about such oddly gross and violent characters
who appear to have no conscience and no spiritual light to guide their action.
Flannery must have been lonely, because she rarely had visitors and had very few
friends. Her debilitating illness was probably a major part of her separating from others
to lead such an isolated life. Possibly embarrassed and humble , not wanting sympathy
because of her disease , she kept others away. One can see why she wrote about the
handicapped , the physically or mentally impaired. Most likely it was a theme that
personally related to her. I believe that all this make it obvious that Flannery O
Conner?s life greatly influenced her work we see examples of this several times in
?Good Country People?
Although O? Connor was a devout Catholic and claimed her work was religious
in nature, her work can be interpreted in many ways. Many critics have only seen her
work in a religious way and I think that is limiting . Regardless of your religious point
of view O? Connor?s work is worth investigating to make your own conlusions.