The Gross And Grotesque In Flannnery O Essay

& # 8217 ; Connor Essay, Research Paper

Jessica Hendrickson

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Dr. Chamberlain

Eng. 345

28 April 1999

The Gross and Grotesque in Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor

Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor is known for her regional, Christian, Gothic, monstrous authorship. We see all these elements in her short narratives. Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s fiction generates strong reactions because of her usage of the gross and grotesque. Harmonizing to Gilbert Muller, & # 8220 ; Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor began composing about the grotesque because she could, and she readily admitted it in a missive to James Farham. O & # 8217 ; Connor explained, Basically the ground my characters are grotesque is because it is the nature of my endowment to do them so & # 8221 ; ( 21 ) .

I think that Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the grotesque in her authorship because it shocks readers and makes them recognize the moral point she is showing. I feel that the application of the grotesque comes from her spiritual background and point of views. However, it is non merely a Gothic position of the grotesque. There is besides a touch of wit in her authorship. I think she largely uses grotesque facets to show the lessened province that her characters are in and how far they have to travel for salvation. Muller states that, & # 8220 ; Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor was successful in character word picture because she realized that the grotesque was the ideal vehicle for exteriorizing frights, compulsions and irresistible impulse & # 8221 ; ( 21 ) .

Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor took mundane state of affairss and confrontations, such as a visit to the physician & # 8217 ; s office and filled it with horror. I think that she used these mundane brushs to assist her readers visualize that these typical horror scenes surround us. Harmonizing to Muller, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters are induced to deformations in character and that the person is staggering in a sea of contradictions and incongruousnesss ( 27 ) . Muller besides goes on to state that the typical grotesque character in O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s fiction is an person who undertakings certain utmost mental provinces which, while psychologically valid, are non probes in the tradition of psychological pragmatism & # 8221 ; ( 22 ) . Often I found that the chief characters of her narratives thought themselves to be superior to others, non recognizing their deficiency of compassion until the despairing stoping of the narrative.

Harmonizing to Muller, & # 8220 ; Miss O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s typical grotesque character, is a diabolic and as such embracings as broad a moral scope as characters, created through the techniques of psychological pragmatism ( 23 ) . Muller states that the monstrous supporter is fated, obsessed and driven by devils & # 8221 ; ( 23 ) . I would hold to differ with Muller & # 8217 ; s statement that the supporters are driven by devils. I feel that most of her characters are blinded by the narrow mindedness of society during that clip period. I don & # 8217 ; t believe O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters are influenced by devils, but instead they are confused about their Christian ideas and positions.

Harmonizing to Muller, & # 8220 ; Hazel Motes in & # 8220 ; Wise Blood & # 8221 ; is an illustration of Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s monstrous supporter ( 28 ) . Muller states that Hazel Motes is a immature adult male continually buffeted by the unbelievable, by the kernel of the monstrous vision of the universe & # 8221 ; ( 23 ) . I feel that in the creative activity of Hazel Motes, Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor perfected the monstrous supporter. Hazel is a overzealous. His nature is opposed to decorate. He is obsessed with Jesus to a grade that is non normal. Hazel tries urgently to deny his fundamentalist background to the extreme.

Harmonizing to Marshall Gentry, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters, inhabit the district held by the Satan and are by and large considered to be monstrous ( 4 ) . Gentry provinces that their grotesque province reflects and increases the characters & # 8217 ; separation from God and their spiritualty & # 8221 ; ( 4 ) . I do non needfully believe that O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters inhabit the district of the Satan or that their grotesque province separates them from God. Her characters are lost in their hunt for salvation. They continually are in hunt of God and their spiritualty but are misled by society & # 8217 ; s positions. They so are led astray by false premises.

Harmonizing to David Eggenschwiler, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the grotesque in Hazel Motes as a contrast to the Christian humanistic place she assumes throughout her work ( 103 ) . Eggenschwiler states that Hazel Motes & # 8217 ; attitudes are non merely utmost and violent but they are morbid and & # 8220 ; Manichean & # 8221 ; ( 103 ) . He besides states that O & # 8217 ; Connor uses several other characters in different narratives with these same features of the grotesque such as, Sarah Ruth in & # 8220 ; Parker & # 8217 ; s Back & # 8221 ; and Mrs. May in & # 8220 ; Greenleaf & # 8221 ; . & # 8221 ; ( 103 ) . It is my belief that Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the grotesque most of the clip to do her readers take notice. She wants the reader to see the extreme and eccentric actions her characters exhibit. Society and/or faith normally oppress her characters. She besides uses the grotesque to demo the transmutation her characters must do for salvation. It besides helps the reader to see that the characters are whom they hate. They normally do non recognize this until it is excessively late.

An illustration of O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s usage of the grotesque to floor and to demo the characters reformation is in her narrative & # 8220 ; Greenleaf. & # 8221 ; In & # 8220 ; Greenleaf & # 8221 ; one grotesque minute is when the bull gores Mrs. May, and his horns pierce her bosom. Mrs. May in & # 8220 ; Greenleaf & # 8221 ; & # 8220 ; stares straight in front but the scene in forepart of her alterations and she had the expression of a individual whose sight has been all of a sudden restored & # 8221 ; ( Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s The Complete Stories, 333 ) . Mrs. May & # 8217 ; s violent decease showed her demand for redemption and salvation. Harmonizing to Muller, & # 8220 ; Mrs. May is forced to run into the appendages of her nature when she is gored by the bull & # 8221 ; ( 84 ) . Mrs. May dies in the narrative, but non before her eyes have been opened and her sight restored. Harmonizing to Rath, Sura and Mary Neff Shaw, & # 8220 ; the cardinal wickedness in O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s narratives is non seeing the violent airy minute but alternatively allows the evildoer ( Mrs. May ) to see herself in relationship to God & # 8221 ; ( 42 ) .

Harmonizing to Gentry, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s supporters are oppressed by debasements of society & # 8217 ; s ideals such as: the economic system of the South, ignorance, physical malformation and disease, by systems of category and race, and by the constructions of faith ( 14 ) . Gentry provinces that O & # 8217 ; Connor uses half the positive and negative signifiers of the grotesque ( 14 ) . He suggests that O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the negative signifier of grotesque in that some of her characters feel degraded by physical malformation and isolation from their society ( 14 ) . He besides states that O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the positive grotesque in that some of her characters are able to alter or reform from their degraded ideals & # 8221 ; ( 14 ) . O & # 8217 ; Connor addresses both the positive and negative signifiers of the grotesque to assist her readers to see that some people can do a alteration for the better and some ne’er do.

Gentry states that & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor was cognizant of the positive qualities in the grotesque in her statement in & # 8220 ; A Memoir of Mary Ann & # 8221 ;

that ” a new position on the grotesque had occurred to her as she learned about the kid, who had a tumour on the side of her face” ( 14 ) . Harmonizing to Sally and Robert Fitzgerald,

& # 8220 ; Most of us have learned to be cold-eyed about immorality,

to look it in the face and happen our ain smile contemplations

with which we do non reason, but good is another affair.

Few have stared at that long plenty to accept the fact that

its face excessively is monstrous that in the good is something

under building. The manners of evil normally receive

worthy look. The manners of good have to be satisfied

with a clich? or a smoothing down that will soften their

existent expression when we look into the face of good, we are apt

to see a face like Mary Ann & # 8217 ; s full of promise & # 8221 ; ( Fitzgerald 226 ) .

Gentry wrote, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters use the positive grotesque to recognize that they can transform the grotesqueness into a force for salvation ( 15 ) . Harmonizing to Gentry, O & # 8217 ; Connor took it as her artistic endeavor to transform images of negative grotesqueness into portion of a redemptional procedure. Gentry besides states that O & # 8217 ; Connor produced work after work in which the grotesque reveals itself once and for all as redemptional ( 18 ) . He goes on to state that O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters by and large have to eliminate themselves to reason the grotesque procedure in salvation & # 8221 ; ( 19 ) .

Several of Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters demonstrate this construct that the grotesque reveals itself as salvation. It is seen in Mrs. Shortley ( & # 8221 ; The Displaced Person & # 8221 ; ) , Mrs. May ( & # 8221 ; Greenleaf & # 8221 ; ) and in Mrs. Turpin ( & # 8221 ; What Rises Must Converge & # 8221 ; ) . Eggenschwiler states that & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s characters begin as irreverent people filled with anxiousness and comprehension, and when grace is offered, the characters can accept it merely when their diabolic or monstrous defences have collapsed ; it is normally minutes before decease & # 8221 ; ( 33-34 ) .

Harmonizing to Muller, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor used the grotesque in an overdone signifier for melodrama, to surprise and floor & # 8221 ; ( 9 ) . In many of O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s narratives, the decisions or terminations are surprising, as they are pathetic and atrocious ; therefore, she uses the grotesque for a melodramatic consequence.

I do non see much wit in Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s usage of the grotesque even though some critics believe it is at that place. Harmonizing to Gentry, & # 8220 ; on a basic degree, the term grotesque describes images of debauched animalism with an consequence at one time humourous and upseting & # 8221 ; ( 11 ) . I do non experience that O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the grotesque to be humourous, but to demo the absurd, the bizarre and the disturbing. I think O & # 8217 ; Connor uses grotesque in her wok to degrade her characters or to demo that they feel or see themselves in a debauched sense non comically or humourous. Muller states that & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s work is amusing in the sense that she uses the grotesque in an overdone signifier ( 6 ) . He besides states that the grotesque character is either exercising himself against the absurd or is portion of the absurd and therefore is amusing & # 8221 ; ( 6 ) . One point Muller makes that I agree with is the fact that & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor uses an overdone signifier in development of her characters & # 8221 ; ( 10 ) . Muller states that & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s utilizations of imitation that often establishes a amusing beat partaking of the incongruous, the irrational, and the grotesque ( 10 ) . Muller remarks that some of the more & # 8220 ; memorable & # 8217 ; characters who are therefore caricatured are Tom T. Shiftlet, the shifty and shiftless cut-up in The Life You Save May Be Your Own and his prospective mother-in-law Lueynell Crater, whose name reflects a barren environment ; Mr. Paradise, a pig-like encarnation of the Satan and Joy Hopewell, the misanthropic and unbelieving cripple in Good State Peoples, who by the terminal of the narrative is the benefit of joy, hope and good being & # 8221 ; ( 10 ) . This signifier of wit I can see in Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s plants.

Some critics have stated that O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s usage of the grotesque is diabolic and that it can non be spiritual. They believe her work does non province spiritual purpose. Robert Golden identifies these critics to be & # 8220 ; Josephine Hendic, John Hawkes, and Claire Kahane & # 8221 ; ( 5 ) . I do non hold with this school of idea. I believe O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s usage of the grotesque as I stated earlier is a signifier of composing to demo the utmost transmutation her characters must do for salvation. I think her work is spiritual and has meaningful vision. Harmonizing to Gentry, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor herself described her work as profoundly Catholic & # 8221 ; ( 3 ) . Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor stated, & # 8220 ; I see from the point of view of Christian orthodoxy. This means that for me the significance of life is centered in our salvation by Christ. I describe the topic of my fiction as the action of grace in a district held mostly by the Satan & # 8221 ; ( qtd. in Gentry pg.3 ) . I think O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the grotesque and nontraditional to do the salvation more convincing. O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the grotesque in her narratives to supply accent on the characters & # 8217 ; demand for grace.

Muller stated, & # 8220 ; O & # 8217 ; Connor decidedly denied that she utilized force and the grotesque as a Gothic appliance, because Gothic fiction had no moral foundation and no moral vision ( 77 ) . He goes on to state that force and grotesque in O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s fiction forces the reader to face the job of immorality and because O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s utilizations force to floor her readers, it becomes the look of wickedness in her narratives and work & # 8221 ; ( 79 ) .

In Fitzgerald & # 8217 ; s authoritative statement on the value of the grotesque, one can see how force fits Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor & # 8217 ; s plants:

& # 8220 ; The novelist with Christian concerns will happen in

modern life deformations which are abhorrent to

him and his job will be to do these look

as deformations to an audience which is used to seeing

them as natural ; and he may good be forced to take

of all time more violent means to acquire his vision across.

When you assume that your audience holds the same

beliefs you do, you can loosen up a small and utilize more normal

ways of speaking to it. When you have to presume that it

does non, so you have to do your vision apparent

by daze & # 8211 ; to the hard of hearing you shout, and for

the about blind you draw big galvanizing figures & # 8221 ;

( Fitzgerald 33-34 ) .

I have discussed many ways in which Flannery O & # 8217 ; Connor uses the gross and grotesque in her authorship. I believe O & # 8217 ; Connor uses this signifier of composing to galvanize the audience, and to acquire her point across. Not merely does she utilize the grotesque to amaze, but she besides uses it for its amusing consequence, and for the melodramatic consequence. I do non experience she uses the grotesque, as many Gothic authors do, for a strictly evil or diabolic consequence. I believe she uses the grotesque in a spiritual sense to demo how debauched her characters are, and how far they must travel to accomplish salvation.