Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/228006
Title: IN THE DEVIL’S TERRITORY: MULTIFARIOUS EVIL IN FLANNERY O’CONNOR’S STORIES
Authors: LIM BAO LUO PAUL
Issue Date: 11-Apr-2022
Citation: LIM BAO LUO PAUL (2022-04-11). IN THE DEVIL’S TERRITORY: MULTIFARIOUS EVIL IN FLANNERY O’CONNOR’S STORIES. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Flannery O’Connor shares in Mystery and Manners that she discovered that her “subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil” (118). This paper investigates the multifarious evil that manifests in O’Connor’s fiction, proposing alternative readings to the dominant views on the presence and role of evil -- both human fallenness and supernatural evil – in three of her short stories. First, I revisit “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” to argue that readers need not employ an anagogical reading to understand evil and grace because mystery operates primarily within the realm of the flesh. I further posit and show that there is a dynamic and coherent trajectory in the ways that evil interacts with the mystery. Next, I propose that there is a specific way in which O’Connor fashions evil for her readers’ experience in “The Displaced Person”. I demonstrate this by offering a three-step model to reading evil: O’Connor first opens up her text to a complex web of evil which makes identifying evil difficult, but she simultaneously offers her readers hidden clues to guide them towards seeing through evil’s rhetoric. This dialogical method of reading evil produces much pleasure for the reader who matures in the process; here, I bring Roland Barthes to bear on O’Connor’s Christian-Realist framework. Lastly, I maintain that evil in “Revelation” is represented through a comedic lens because comedy is the instrument that mysteriously transmutes evil into divine grace. I then illustrate O’Connor’s theatrical composition of evil to essay that “Revelation” is a comedic performance that transposes evil into the mysteries of grace. Read together, my paper illustrates the strong dynamism of O’Connor’s stories and provides fresh insights to understanding O’Connor’s artistic vision and life.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/228006
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