April 26, 2006
Critical Approaches to Flannery O'Connor
From my oral presentation:
Here is my thesis and questions regarding it using each of Roberts' Critical Approaches.
Thesis: “The Artificial Nigger,” “The River,” and “Good Country People” succeed at portraying moments of epiphany to varying degrees. Using the following critical definition of epiphany allows for the comparison of the three main characters’ epiphanies based on: 1) the actual life-changing events they experience, 2) their capacities for self-awareness and 3) their inherent deficits.
Definition of epiphany (Myers): “[an] inspirational moment…inevitably preceded by a crushing awareness of one’s unworthiness and by a shedding of self-sufficiency.”
How successfully does the use of epiphanies convey O’Connor’s message? What, in fact, is O’Connor’s message to the reader?
How is O’Connor’s use of the moment of epiphany for Mr. Head, Bevel, and Joy/Hulga connected to her southern Catholicism?
Do the details about the characters affect the success of the epiphany? (ex., youth, arrogance)
Are the characters portrayed as active or passive protagonists? Is this difference significant in determining whether an epiphany occurred? If Bevel actively takes his own life, does he become self-sufficient? Or is the realization separate from the resulting actions?
Comparing Hulga with Bevel and Mr. Head, does O’Connor give Hulga more or less ability to experience the moment of epiphany? Is this related to her being female?
Do the economic/social situations of the three characters have any effect on their abilities to experience the epiphanies? Would they be less likely to experience them if they were wealthy?
Does the character need to have a mature ego to experience the “crushing awareness of one’s unworthiness”?
Is the moment of epiphany a “search for paradise” or merely a lesson from O’Connor about the ineptitude brought about by arrogance?
Could the epiphany be merely a way for O’Connor to express her religious views and not a development for the characters? What is the meaning of epiphany?
Does the reader create the idea of the epiphany? How would different readers of various religions interpret such a concept?
Posted by JenniferDiFulvio at April 26, 2006 09:52 AM
Thanks for posting this -- it's a very useful review.
Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 26, 2006 10:59 AM