Flannery O'Connor

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One key component to making a story thought provoking and leave a lasting impression on the reader is efficient use of rhetorical devices. Flannery O’Connor implements symbolism, irony, metaphors, and strong imagery to supplement her plots with a message that isn’t found on the surface but requires the reader to divulge and explore all the possibilities of representation in her text. Whether illustrating a stormy backdrop as a metaphor for turmoil or three bullet shots as a final offering of atonement, O’Connor depicts a road to salvation through the unlikeliest of representations. This trend becomes apparent as one can identify the path to penance made by the protagonist in such stories as “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”, and “Good Country People”. The imagery is generally comedic and grotesque, which expresses the notion that God works in mysterious ways. Although redemption may be proffered, the protagonists are sometimes kept from salvation by their own intellectual pride. Flannery O’Connor’s use of characterization and symbolism aid in revealing the theme of redemption in her short stories. One way O’Connor does this is by using the grandmother’s murder in “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” to express that in certain situations salvation can only be attained through death. She does this by introducing a morally hypocritical character, the grandmother, whose fate leads her to a gruesome yet salvational death. The grandmother is contriving in her ways and uses the fact that “[the children] have never been to east Tennessee”(9) to convince her son in a vacation destination. Her self-centered actions hint at being responsible for a disgraceful disposition. In addition, the grandmother is a liar because she was “not telling the truth”(16). But the fact that she’s “wishing that she were [telling the truth]”(16) shows that she has an earnest desire to be morally just. This in turn can be reason for why she is given a chance at...
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