A Critical Analysis of "Revelation" by Flannery O'Connor

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A Critical Analysis of "Revelation" by Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor's background influenced her to write the short story " Revelation." One important influence on the story is her Southern upbringing. During her lifetime, Southerners were very prejudiced towards people of other races and lifestyles. They believed that people who were less fortunate were inferior to them; therefore, people were labeled as different things and placed into different social classes. The South provided O'Connor with the images she needed for her characters. Similarly, this can easily be identified in her short story "Revelation." The characters in the story are identified by physical characteristics and some are even identified with racial terms. The main character in the story is actually prejudiced and makes many statements using racial jargon. For example, Mrs. Turpin, the main character, refers to the higher class woman as "well-dressed and pleasant". She also labels the teenage girl as "ugly" and the poor woman as "white-trashy". When Mrs. Turpin converse with her black workers, she often uses the word "nigger" in her thoughts. These characteristics she gives her characters definitely reveals the Southern lifestyle which the author, Flannery O'Connor, was a part of. In addition to her Southern upbringing, another influence on the story is Flannery O'Connor's illness. She battled with the lupus disease which has caused her to use a degree of violence and anger to make her stories somewhat unhappy. The illness caused a sadness inside of Flannery O'Connor, and that inner sadness flowed from her body to her paper through her pen. Although she was sick, O'Connor still felt proud to be who she was. By comparison, Mrs. Turpin in " Revelation" has a good disposition about herself. She is far from perfect, yet she is happy to be who she is. Perhaps the most important influence on the story is religion. In the words of Robert McCown, O'Connor's writing was mainly generated by a most powerful Christianity which was fed by her Catholic background (McCown, 256). O'Connor was not only influenced by her own Catholic heritage but by others as well. Like the other writers from France and England, she is curious about the actuality of sin and the effect that it has on the presence of mankind. Her stories and every characteristic about them was Flannery O'Connor's way of showing reality and qualities that are determiners of fate and destiny. No matter which path her stories took her readers, they mostly ended up finding social truth. This background, together with a believable plot, convincing characterization, and important literary devices enables Flannery O'Connor in "Revelation" to develop the theme that sometimes people must look farther than the surface in order to understand the actions of others.

To develop this theme, O'Connor creates a believable plot by using a social conflict, the element of surprise, and an unhappy ending. The main social conflict that appears in this story is not determined until a good portion of the story has passed. There are, however, incidents that build up to the actual conflict. The story "Revelation" has a major and a minor social conflict. The minor conflict is between Mrs. Turpin and a white-trash woman. This conflict is born because Mrs. Turpin believes she is in a higher class than the white-trash woman. The white-trash woman is unintelligent and uneducated, and Mrs. Turpin is repulsed when she speaks and interrupts her conversation with someone else. The major social conflict is between Mrs. Turpin and a teenage girl across from her. This conflict is built up over the course of the story through rude gestures and facial expressions given by the teenage girl. For instance, Mrs. Turpin makes a comment about a clock. The girl looks at the clock and smirks which was followed by another smirk toward Mrs. Turpin. Mrs. Turpin also acknowledges a look the girl gives her as the...
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