Women's Lost and Returned Souls —— An Analysis of Women's Displacement and Epiphany in O'Connor's Works

Topics: Southern literature, Southern United States, Religion Pages: 25 (9923 words) Published: February 4, 2014
Women's Lost and Returned Souls
—— An Analysis of Women's Displacement and Epiphany
in O'Connor's Works

Yuan LinLin

April 20, 2013


This paper aims at analyzing certain female characters in Flannery O’Connor’s works from the perspective of feminism. By combining the displacement theory in psychology and the Christian existentialism, it illustrates specific changes and reconstructions realized by female characters before and after the occurrence of displacement as well as the impact on their spiritual world by violence and male intruders. The paper also discusses old Southern ideas and the constraints thrown by the patriarchal society, the estrangement of female characters’ struggling environment and the destruction of their spiritual world. Based on these concerns, this paper will probe into Flannery O’Connor’s feminine and religious views on the displaced souls and their absent identity and it examines her criticism towards the influence by post-war industrial civilization and rationalism on females’ lost souls and belief. This paper is divided into five parts. The very first part is the introduction, which will briefly review former researches on Flannery O’Connor’s works and certain theories as illustrated above. The second part is about female characters’ place and life in the novel. The third part is mainly the demonstration of Flannery O’Connor’s religious and feminie views by analyzing certain female characters’ displacement and accordingly loss. The forth part emphasizes on interpreting their epiphany aroused by the displacement. And the last part is a summary of this paper with a drawn conclusion.

Keywords: feminism; displacement; Christian existentialism; epiphany

1. Introduction4
2.Women's Place and Life6
2.1 Southern Tradition and Women Images in O’Connor’s Works 6 2.2 Women’s Loss of Self-identity9
3.Women's Displacement and Disorientation13
3.1 Displacement by Male Intruders14
3.2 Displacement by Violence17
4. Women’s Epiphany and Change20
4.1 Indifference of Southern Tradition 21
4.2 Reconstruction and Redemption of Souls 23
5.Conclusion 28

1. Introduction

Flannery O’Connor is an American Southern female writer featured by her religious background as a Catholic and Lupus-tangled patient. O’Connor is mostly recognized by her unique writing style with a sense of grotesque and questioning on the female identity. Her works, mainly short stories and novels, owe her a renowned reputation as a liberary prophet of the South, casting an indelible influence on the American literature in the 20th century. O’Connor’s choice on combining feminine viewpoint with her Roman Catholic belief along with the Southern gothic style had won her three-time O’Henry Prize and an American National Book Award in 1972. Southern America, once enjoying its glorious past for centuries long, gave Southern writers like O’Connor the specialty of using gloomy images, twisted protagonists, and unexpected elements, which were conducted under the circumstances of conflicts between the south and the north, the old ideology and the new modern civilization, the long-run moral system and the corrupted religious belief. Given the Southern economic operation mode, O’Connor focused more on the traditional family-oriented life for family value was weighed high in the South. However, she concerned more on its degraded side as the South was defeated in the Civil War with those conservative and rigid conceptions no longer sufficient to shift into a brand new era. In addition to the regional genre, O’Connor also developed her interpretation of God’s grace and revelation in her works by molding female characters as incompetent, insular and powerless compared to the male forces. Previous reviews on O’Connor’s works at home and abroad mainly discussed her role as a member of the Southern literature, a grotesque female writer and a religious...

Bibliography: 1. Caron, T P. 2000, Struggles over the word: Race and religion in O’Connor’s, Faulkner, Hurston, and Wright. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
2. Caruso, T C. 2001. Feminism and Flannery O’Connor A Study of the Feminine Grotesque. Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
3. Deborah L. Siegel. 1997, “The Legacy of the Personal: Generating Theory in Feminism 's Third Wave”. Hypatia. Volume 12: 46-75.
4. Displacement(psychology). n.d. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Displacement, Retrieved Mar. 4, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Displacement_psychology
6. Flannery O’Connor. 1971, The Complete Stories. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
8. Gentry, M B. 1986, Flannery O’Connor’s Religion of the Grotesque. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
10. Kirk, C A. 2007. Critical Companion to Flannery O 'Connor: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work. Facts on File, Inc.
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