A Point on Flannery O'Connor
Throughout her stories, "Everything that Rises Must Converge," "A Good Man is Hard to Find," and "Revelation," Flannery O'connor presents a bleak view of human nature, and salvation. The inability of humans to do good and succeed is obvious in all three stories. While there are numerous references to the watchful eye of God, He always remains out of reach. The farther one stretches to meet Him, to succeed, the farther He moves away. Some even call her works "grotesque" and "apocalyptic." (Kessler 23). While I would not use such extreme terms for her work, I would say that they are definitely gloomy.
Her pessimistic view of life is first shown through her attitudes toward youth. Children are revealed as violent and evil in all three stories. O'connor chooses to strip away the innocence and gullibility of God's children, and show them as ungrateful, selfish animals. Children are thrown into a world in which they have no chance of succeeding. In "Everything that Rises Must Converge," Julian is a young, college educated man, but his years of college have not taught him respect for his mother
He "did not like to consider all she had done for him" (348). And for all she has done for him he repays her with cruel words. He will never be successful for "he was too intelligent to be a success," (352). Even those who are educated are not truly enlightened to God's wisdom, and will not gain salvation. God will not grant them the opportunity to grow up with grace.
Similarly in "A Good Man is Hard to Find," June Star and John Wesley are portrayed as violent and disrespectful children. In the car, John Wesley kicks the back of her fathers seat until "his father could feel the blows in his kidneys"(363). Both children use a degrading tone when speaking to their grandmother, telling her that she could not bear to stay home by herself. "She has to go everywhere we go,"(359) they tell her mockingly. Such cruel disrespect by children is not shown by most writers.
In "Revelation," a child attacks a woman she does not even know simply because she has disturbed her reading. The child may as well being launching an offensive on the whole world. A world that has kept her from reaching her dreams, and a world that mocks her because of her lack of beauty. O'connors bleak view of children, those who are supposed to be the most innocent, shows her view that humans are doomed from the beginning.
O'connor also submits that the world is an unsafe place in which to live... It is basically a jungle, full of places for a person to screw up. O'connor is unable to establish any character as a hero in any of the three stories that we read. No one can overcome the obstacles that the world has set before them. No character is truly happy with his/her life.
Julian's mother learns in the end that she is not in the position that she used to be. She is no longer above anyone else in the world, and she must accept her role as a simple player in society.
In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the grandmother is the only character who has a chance to be a hero in the story, and O'connor will not let her emerge as one. "She would have been a good woman... If it had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life"(370) is the Misfit's theory on her.
Mrs. Turpin is forced to face herself as a wart hog from hell, after believing all her life that she was an upstanding woman in society. She can t even bring herself to tell her husband what had happened to her because she is afraid that he might agree with the young girls interpretation of her. "She did not want to put the image of herselt as a wart hog from hell into his mind"(Revelation 381).
No character in any of O'connor's stories carries a truly accurate view of their own identity. How can one put themselves in a position to gain salvation if they can't see what position they are in now? For that matter all of the