Grace and Sin in Flannery O’Connor's Short Stories

Grace and Sin in Parker's Back and A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

Virtually all of Flannery O'Connor's short stories contain the receiving of grace by an unworthy protagonist at the tale's climatic moment. The hero of "Parker's Back" gets a Catholic, Byzantine tattoo of Christ on his back to please (unsuccessfully) his fundamentalist Protestant wife. The grandmother of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" sees the face of the divine in the escaped convict known only as the 'misfit.' Even in the hearts of the most sinful of O'Connor's characters, it is possible for human beings, the author suggests, to receive grace. Grace comes unexpectedly to these characters, as it does ...

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child Mary Grace of O'Connor's short story "Revelation." (Bernardo, "Flannery O'Connor," 2003) Rather, O'Connor believed that grace more often than not came as a rude shock, like the revelation of the title, "if not an outright trauma." (Bernardo, "Flannery O'Connor," 2003) This was necessary because people had to be jolted out of "complacency and into an awareness of their need for salvation. In both 'Revelation' and 'Greenleaf,' this comes through the encounter of smug, self-righteous female protagonists with secondary characters they consider to be inferior," and in some stories like "Everything rises must converge," the encounter of a smug and self righteous male protagonist who thought himself educated with the workings of reality in a false sense of intellectual superiority. (Bernardo, "Flannery O'Connor," 2003)
It is particularly interesting to read O'Connor with her religion in mind, given that modern critics "tend to read literature [only] from a secular ...

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stories, however momentarily, the most sinful protagonists can labor under-the divine influence through physical interventions in the world, such as Mary Grace's attack and calling Mrs. Turpin a "hog." In Christianity, "the conception of grace developed alongside the conception of sin" and in Catholicism "it was debated whether saving grace could be obtained outside the membership of the church" In Catholicism as well, although Christ, the saints and "the Virgin lived in a state of grace" in perpetuity, most of humanity will sin, fall from grace, and return to a state of grace through the sacraments and institutions of the church. (Word Reference.com Dictionary. 2003) Or, in ...

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Added: 2/14/2017 08:10:37 AM
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