Maida on the Work of O’Connor
October 6, 2012
The main idea of Maida’s article is to tie together and explain the common literary devices apparent in Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. There are four reoccurring devices in O’Connor’s work: first, the eyes, which reflect an individuals innermost thoughts and emotions; then the tree-line which symbolizes the division of understanding between the world understood by an individual and the world beyond their comprehension; then the color purple which represents emotional or physical trauma which is often evoked alongside the Sun, which represents divine intervention. In describing these devices Maida also describes the arc of O’Connor’s characters as one in which they begin their journey with a sinful or selfish understanding of life and ultimately are bestowed with an enlightened understanding of life after embracing the love of God, Christian values, or both. (3)
Maida’s writing is a brilliant exploration of the subject matter. From the citations given throughout the article it seems apparent that the core idea would not be lost on any reader, but after having been provided with a thorough examination of the O’Connor ‘s symbology her writing can now be appreciated to it’s full extent. For instance, a symbol like the Sun might be mistaken for a moment of clarity to someone unfamiliar with O’Connor’s other works. (4a) Maida (1976) asserts that the Sun is unmistakable as God’s active force, due to its ability to violate the laws of physics concerning its shape and movement (p. 2-3). However, since it is used as a metaphor its movement or changes could be interpreted as imagined movements that reside only in the mind of the character to whom they apply. The Sun as metaphor would then represent the comprehension of a life lesson as it eludes or is absorbed by the character. This understanding would recast the role of God from one which is shown to be an...
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