Flannery O’Connor: Seeing the Bad in the Good (Part Two)

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor

Illustration by Junyi Wu (junyiwu.blogspot.com)
Illustration by Junyi Wu (junyiwu.blogspot.com)

Part Two: “Flannery O’Connor’s Good Characters”

Continued from Part One: “Flannery O’Connor’s Evil Characters”

A common theme throughout Flannery O’Connor’s stories is that people are not always what they seem. Most people like to believe that no matter how wicked a person may seem, everyone has at least a little good within them, even if you have to dig deep down to find it and bring it to the surface. The tendency is to make excuses for a person’s bad or violent behavior – they’re having a bad day, or they had an unfortunate upbringing, or they are simply misunderstood and need some love and compassion. O’Connor’s  stories, on the other hand, often present the exact opposite view– that no matter how good a person appears on the outside, there is at least a little evil lying below the surface; it’s just a matter of the right circumstances occurring to reveal it. Continue reading “Flannery O’Connor: Seeing the Bad in the Good (Part Two)”

Flannery O’Connor: Seeing the Bad in the Good (Part One)

GoodManHardtoFindA Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Through the ages, philosophers have debated the issue of man’s morality. The question can be asked like this: “Is man basically good, having a potential for evil? Or, is man essentially bad, with the potential for doing good?” How do we distinguish between a “good” person and a “bad” person? If you were to ask the average person on the street, most people would likely say they believe man is basically good. But I believe that the southern Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor  (1925-1964) would disagree with this assessment. O’Connor’s stories have been classified as Southern Gothic. She is quoted as remarking that “anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” She uses irony and dark humor in some of her short stories to expose the depravity that she believes exists in the heart of every person. Continue reading “Flannery O’Connor: Seeing the Bad in the Good (Part One)”