A Glimpse at Flannery O'Connor's Southern and Religious Themes

Essay by slc2754College, UndergraduateA-, May 2007

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Flannery O'Connor's Southern upbringing influences the themes of her stories. Southerners were very prejudiced towards people of different races and lifestyles; they believed that they were superior to those who were less fortunate than they were. There were different social classes in which people were placed. The settings of her stories are set in Georgia or Tennessee, an area she knows best, and she gives her characters southern accents. The South provided O'Connor with imagery she needed to develop her characters. During her writing career in the 1950s and early '60s, the South was dominated by Protestant Christians; therefore, she was born and raised Catholic. Her religion also plays a part in developing her themes.

In "Revelation" the main character, Mrs. Turpin, feels a tremendous amount of self-righteousness concerning her position in the world. Her classification system boils down to race and ownership of land. Since she and her husband Claude own a house and land to raise pigs on, she considers herself superior to blacks, regardless of how much property they own, because she is white.

She cannot figure out how there could be anybody who is in any way superior to Mrs. Turpin.

At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Turpin and her husband enter their doctor's waiting room, and at once she begins to judge the other patients that are there. Mrs. Turpin and a stylish lady start talking, first by exchanging meaningless compliments. They discuss the importance of refinement and good disposition. It is not long before the discussion on lazy people gets specific with special mention being made of Negro farm workers and how you have to be nice to "niggers" to get them to do any work. The white trash woman views both pigs and Negroes in the same light. The discussion on...