Essay #2 English 102
Flannery O’Connor and the Fighting of Inner Evils in 2 Stories
Whether we believe in God or not, our image of God is of a supernatural being that is all-knowing, has a certain amount of control over the way life works, and is perfect. The characteristics that accompany the word “evil” contradict the perfection that goes along with our image of God. As stated in many different religious texts, we all have internal evils or struggles and must face them or get through them in order to reach salvation and God. In many religious texts, it is also stated that our trials often times define our faith in God. Many writers portray character’s tribulations in order to overcome their inner evils. Flannery O’Conner was a strong Catholic from Georgia who eventually became a very well known Southern writer who showcased the South, the importance of religion in the South, and the moral struggles of people to make the transition to salvation and redemption. In the stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People”, Flannery O’Conner portrays the theme of evil by providing many examples of characters—better known as grotesques—that are evil in some form or another but find God through their moral struggles by employing her infamous use of Southern Gothic style.
Grotesque is usually associated with the South. The South is well known even today for its issues with racism, past dealings with slavery, losing the civil war, and being a strong center of Christianity. While the South does not have the best reputation in the eyes of the rest of America due to the intolerance, writers that employ the style of Southern Gothic believe that this moral conflict is what brings the Southern people closer to redemption and salvation. For example, losing the civil war and having to rebuild afterwards was a “redemptive catastrophe” for the South because this struggle brought them closer to God since they had an opportunity to deepen their faiths and fix their moral flaws by realizing what their immorality had brought them to (Shinn 60). The Southern Gothic style used by Flannery O’Conner employs grotesques or characters whose negative qualities allow the author to highlight unpleasant aspects of the southern culture. The Southern Gothic style also employs irony, violence, and strong sense of place. Evil is depicted in Flannery O’Conner’s stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People” as a privation or lack of goodness, where she has her most grotesque characters as the most evil ones as well. While both stories are set in the deep South, both employ irony and violence but also have many differences.
Flannery O’Conner’s tough love for the South is seen in the depiction of the grotesques. The exact characteristics that a grotesque has are the lack of empathy, mercy, kindness, faith, love, honesty, and respect—all characteristics that are essential to developing a deeper relationship with God and being a good Christian. These grotesques bring out the evils in the South since many people had these characteristics at the time. There are three kinds of grotesques in the modern world—spiritual, secular, and physical. Spiritual grotesques are characters that like to destroy others and lack empathy. Secular grotesques reject God and believe in science, rationality, and materialism. Physical grotesques are physically deformed or mentally handicapped. In Flannery O’Connor’s stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, there is a spiritual grotesque while in “Good Country People”, there is secular and physical grotesqueness. There is also a difference between the level of violence in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Conner. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, O’Conner employs more physical violence while in “Good Country People”, she employs more emotional violence.
Physical imperfections and materialism are two common things that people have dealt with on a regular...
Cited: Mays, Kelly J. "The Author 's Work as Context: Flannery O 'Connor." The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York, London: W W Norton & Co, 2013. 540-91. Print.
Mays, Kelly J. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Flannery O 'Connor." The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York, London: W W Norton & Co, 2013. 540-54. Print.
Mays, Kelly J. "Good Country People: Flannery O 'Connor." The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York, London: W W Norton & Co, 2013. 554-68. Print.
Shinn, Thelma J. "Flannery O 'Connor and the Violence of Grace." Flannery O 'Connor and the Violence of Grace Winter 9.1 (1968): 58-73. University of Wisconsin. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
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