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Flannery O'Connor's Background Influenced Her to Write the Short Story

By carlaking Apr 11, 2010 876 Words
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 lifestyles and races. They believed that people who were less fortunate were less of a person than they were; therefore, people were labeled as different and placed into different social classes. The South provided O'Connor with the images she needed for her characters. This can easily be identified in her short story titled “Revelation. The characters in the story are identified by physical characteristics and some are even identified with racial terms. . In addition to her Southern upbringing another primary factor throughout her writings is evidence of here strong Catholic convictions, and the influences that sin has on mankind. My goal throughout this paper is to show how her writing style reflects her convictions The main character in the story is actually prejudiced and makes many statements using racial remarks. 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 talks with her black workers, she often uses the word “nigger” in her thoughts. These characteristics she has given her characters definitely reveals the Southern lifestyle which she was a part of. To develop this theme, O'Connor creates a believable plot by using a social conflict as the element of surprise, and an unhappy ending. The main social conflict that appears in this story is not determined until a good part 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 comes about 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. It was like the girl has known and disliked Mrs. Turpin all her life. Another element of plot which reinforces the theme of “Revelation” is the element of surprise which actually brings the main conflict out in the open. The action around the conflict is completely surprising and unpredictable. We are aware the girl dislikes Mrs. Turpin because of her previous actions. The girl never does anything other than give her dirty looks; therefore, we are not expecting any type of physical violence between them. When the girl hits Mrs. Turpin in the face with the book Human Development, Mrs. Turpin who is happy being who s she is, does not understand why the girl hated her. She does not think she is a bad person, and she cannot comprehend why she is not liked. O'Connor ends the story with Mrs. Turpin's questions unanswered, which leave her with a sadness that is unsolvable. Through the use of social conflict, the element of surprise, and an unhappy ending, this story is truly believable. O'Connor's use of symbolism allows her to reinforce the theme. Many of O'Connor's writings are thought of as humorous. In most of her stories, she uses a technique that is, for the most part, comic. Humor is one way O'Connor masks what she is actually trying to say. O'Connor's stories also include much symbolism like in her story “Revelation.” In this story, there are several points of symbolism. The teenage girl extremely dislikes Mrs. Turpin from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. Her dislike grows throughout the story and then erupts like a volcano. When her anger erupts, she throws a book at Mrs. Turpin. The book Human Development symbolizes her hatred because in a book, the plot develops and builds up over the course of the book. This is exactly what her anger did toward Mrs. Turpin. The book is not the only symbol in “Revelation.” In the doctor's office, there are several types of people. These different types of people symbolize the different types of social classes. For example, the white-trashy woman represents the lowest class with uneducated intelligence, the well-dressed woman represents a class of higher standards and intelligence along with an educated background and Mrs. Turpin represents middle, working class with average intelligence and educated background. In conclusion, Flannery O'Connor ranks among one the most important American fiction writers of the twentieth century. Many critics say the intensity of all of her writings comes from her simplicity of style, and that is why she is such an outstanding writer. O'Connor's life was very short due to the illness she had. Miss O'Connor contributed a number of great stories, and ideas to the literary community.

Works Cited
Barnet, Sylvan, Burto, William, and Cain, E. William. An Introduction To Literature

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