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The Dark Side of the Cross: Flannery O'Connor's Short Fiction by Patrick Galloway Introduction To the uninitiated, the writing of Flannery O'Connor can seem at once cold and dispassionate, as well as almost absurdly stark and violent.
Her short stories routinely end in horrendous, freak fatalities or, at the very least, a character's emotional devastation. Working his way through "Greenleaf," "Everything that Rises Must Converge," or "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the new reader feels an existential hollowness reminiscent of Camus' The Stranger; O'Connor's imagination appears a barren, godless plane of meaninglessness, punctuated by pockets of random, mindless cruelty.
In reality, her writing is filled with meaning and symbolism, hidden in plain Viewpoint essays beneath a seamless narrative style that breathes not a word of agenda, of dogma, or of personal belief.
In this way, her writing is intrinsically esoteric, in that it contains knowledge that is hidden to all but those who have been instructed as to how and where to look for it, i.
Flannery O'Connor is a Christian writer, and her work is message-oriented, yet she is far too brilliant a stylist to tip her hand; like all good writers, crass didacticism is abhorrent to her. Nevertheless, she achieves what few Christian writers have ever achieved: In this analysis, we will be Viewpoint essays at just how Flannery O'Connor accomplished this seemingly impossible task, non-didactic Christian fiction, by examining elements of faith, elements of style, and thematic elements in her writing.
While secondary sources are included for perspective, I have focused primarily upon Miss O'Connor's own essays and speeches in my examination of the writer's motivations, attitudes, and technique, most of which are contained in the posthumous collection Mystery and Manners.
Unlike some more cryptic writers, O'Connor was happy to discuss the conceptual and philosophical underpinnings of her stories, and this candor is a godsend for the researcher that seeks to know what "makes the writer tick.
O'Connor, and spent her early childhood at East Charlton Street. Young Flannery attended St. In her father Viewpoint essays a position as appraiser for the Federal Housing Administration, and the family moved to North East Atlanta, then Milledgeville, where, three years later, Ed died from complications arising from the chronic autoimmune disease lupus.
Inafter complaining of a heaviness in her typing arms, she was diagnosed with the same lupus that had killed her father. She went on, despite the disease, to write two novels and thirty-two short stories, winning awards and acclaim, going on speaking tours when her health permitted, but spending most of her time on the family farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville, with her mother.
She died of lupus on August third, at the age of thirty-nine. Flannery O'Connor remained a devout Catholic throughout, and this fact, coupled with the constant awareness of her own impending death, both filtered through an acute literary sensibility, gives us valuable insight into just what went into those thirty-two short stories and the two novels: At first it might seem that these aspects of her writing would detract from, distort or mar the fiction they are wrapped up in, but in fact they only serve to enhance it, to elevate the mundane, sometimes laughably pathetic events that move her plots into sublime anti-parables, stories that show the way by elucidating the worst of paths.
What at first seem senseless deaths become powerful representations of the swift justice of God; the self-deluded, prideful characters that receive the unbearable revelation of their own shallow selves are being impaled upon the holy icicle of grace, even if they are too stupid or lost to understand the great boon God is providing them.
Note these last lines from "The Enduring Chill": But the Holy Ghost, emblazoned in ice instead of fire, continued to descend. O'Connor observed a Manicheism in the mind of the average Catholic reader, resulting from a conceptual separation between nature and grace in considerations of the supernatural, thus rendering fictional experience of nature as either sentimental or obscene.
Therefore O'Connor utilizes nature as a tool, a hard, sharp tool with which to hew and chisel her work from the living rock of the real world. Nature imagery is everywhere in O'Connor, and it is often used to reinforce the negativity of the lives and mental states of her characters.
In "A View of the Woods" we read of trees that are described as "sullen" and "gaunt ," of "threadbare" clouds, and "indifferent" weather. Elsewhere, human beings are described by way of animal imagery such as "large bug," "wheezing horse," "hyena," "sheep," "crab," "goat," "dog," " buzzard," "monkey," and the like.
The novice reader of O'Connor may well wonder how her work, grotesque and violent as it is, would be considered "Christian" or "Catholic" writing. On first perusal, with its horrendous deaths, it's empty, cruel, narcissistic characters and depressing, seemingly unresolved endings, it seems rather the opposite.
What confuses the reader at first is what Miss O'Connor referred to as her "reasonable use of the unreasonable," and the assumptions that underlie its use.
Belief, in my own case anyway, is the engine that makes perception operate. According to this philosophy, the man in a violent situation reveals those aspects of his character that he will take with him into eternity; hence the reader should approach the story by looking to such moments as an opportunity to peer into the soul of the character.
This approach also borrows from German philosopher Martin Heidegger and his concept of Dasein, being-there, wherein death represents the moment when a man's existence becomes complete, for better or worse.
Heideger was a definite influence on O'Connor, and ideas such as this, as well as his concept that essential truth is a mystery that pervades the whole of human existence, dovetail perfectly with the larger theological interpretation of reality seen in her writing.
His theory, that man's attempt to replace the Absolute with himself makes him pathetic and comical but never tragic as the tragic is reserved for loss of the religious dimension is also influential. In O'Connor, the religious dimension is never far off, her stories being set in the Christ-haunted south where religion, whether one is a true believer of not, is a part of the very landscape.Viewpoint papers discuss OFR research, financial stability policies, and data initiatives.
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Media companies hide behind 'impartial' algorithms to disproportionately ban conservative content. The Dark Side of the Cross: Flannery O'Connor's Short Fiction by Patrick Galloway. Introduction. To the uninitiated, the writing of Flannery O'Connor can seem at once cold and dispassionate, as well as almost absurdly stark and violent.
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