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Flannery O’connor, the South and Religion

In: Religion Topics

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Southern Gothic is a form of literature with a style specific to itself. There are many unique elements that’s are characterized only to southern gothic literature. The Southern Gothic style uses traits such as grotesquery and ironic events to judge the morals of the American South. Unlike its similar and older genre, Gothic tools are used not only for the sense of anticipation, but also to discover social issues and show the cultural aspect of the American South. One thing that holds dear to the south is religion. Many southerners claim Christianity, which to them makes their morals right. Southern culture has been and remains commonly and publically more conventional the rest of the United States. Due to the huge agricultural role that the south played in the building of Americas economy, the culture continued to be sacred and covered due the immense land ownership during that time. The societies where small, which led to the development of strong relationships through business, community gatherings and church. The south is known for being the most religious section in the United States. According to Adherents.com the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest denomination, claims roughly 16 million members. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reports that “more than eight in ten people in Mississippi (82 percent) say religion is very important in their lives, making the Magnolia State the most religious according to this measure.”
Flannery O’Connor created her stories based on the Christ-obsessed South. It seemed as if she was incapable of writing anything that strayed away from the topics of, “Jesus freaks”, egotistical characters, prophets, or firm atheists: “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”(http://www.goodreads.com) Flannery O’Connor was a sincerely spiritual Christian and a seriously dedicated Roman Catholic, with this being said there is no surprise that her religious thoughts influenced her writings such as her well-known story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” It is an appalling story about a family outing gone amiss the pompous grandmother caused the families car to be wrecked and them to be stranded due to her ignorance. The author creates an improbable criminal who is embodied by the Misfit, who gives spiritual and noble advice, which contradicts to the fact that he is a killer. The Misfit shows a form of intelligence and a sense of awareness: "Nome, I ain't a good man," The Misfit said while conversing with the grandmother before her death, "but I ain't the worst in the world neither,” unlike the grandmother who considers herself as superior, even though her moral code breaks when the Misfits confronts her. There where “drastic characteristics that were implemented in the grandmother, the mother of Bailey.”(DeAngelis)
“The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism. I believe that there are many rough beasts now slouching toward Bethlehem to be born and that I have reported the progress of a few of them, and when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror.”( http://www.brainpickings.org)

Through her stories it seems as if O’Connor believed that human sin and flaws lied in ones arrogance and narcissism. O’Connor’s religious position becomes extremely significant and apparent in the second half of the narration, after the family members undergo a car accident and come in contact with the Misfit and his accomplices. He symbolized a Christian’s belief that every human being will inescapably be confronted with death by God himself. The Misfit supports this point by comparing himself to Jesus Christ. The Misfit points out something by saying “She would have been a good woman . . . if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” Which for Christians such as O’Connor, just points out the fact that many people often live their lives very carelessly until they are confronted with death itself.
Flannery O’Connor’s Catholic background influenced many of her works, which most likely brought different commentaries her way notably for her blunt, sometimes grim representation of religion. She also credited her religion for the reason behind her talent, writing once in a letter, “I feel that if I were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason ever to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything.” (http://www.usfca.edu)
O’Connor uses religious point of view, as well as her Southern upbringing, as a way to connect with the genre Southern Gothic. Southern values may seem to be old to some, but that doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Due to these values and the upbringing of the south in whole it is now how men and women relate with each other. How individuals are recognized in the society. The sad thing about the Southern values in her stories is that they aren’t what the south is really like in our. What she really does is struggle with the ironies that she sees around her in the south, and tries not to avoid them. “The plots are very eventful”(DeAngelis) these might be a reason why they are so appealing and popular.

Acknowledgment
I want to thank God for all that he has done for me. For given me the opportunity and strength to take this class. For also blessing me each and everyday and keeping me alive.
Also want to thank him for success that he has planned for my life.

Works Cited
"Adherents.com." Largest Religious Groups in the USA. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2015.
DeAmgelis, Victoria. Journal 8 (2015): 1. Web. Apr. 2015.
"Flannery O'Connor: A Self-Portrait in Letters." - University of San Francisco (USF). N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2015.
O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, 1955. Print.
"A Quote by Flannery O'Connor." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2015.
"Religion in American History." : January 2010. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2015.
"Writing for the Godless: Flannery O’Connor on Dogma, Belief, and the Difference Between Religion and Faith." Brain Pickings RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2015.

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