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i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

The Comedy of Tragedy

January 29, 2005

The thing I found strangest about Askin's article, article on Flannery O'Connor was probably the repeated mention of humor. Now, I don't know about you but a whole family being shot and killed by an escaped convict is, well, not my idea of comedy. [Vanessa agrees!].

I did find the part where the grandmother let the cat out of the bag to be particularly amusing, mostly because I have cats myself and they aren't very friendly when placed in moving vehicles. Also, the idea of the grandmother inspiring the kids to start screaming to visit the mansion on the dirt road is pretty silly. But, all in all? I'd say Ms. O'Connor works are just not funny!

I suppose, however, if I were able to look at life from her perspective - as a hardcore Catholic woman in the deep south - I might find more humor in such a horrid situation. Askin suggests that the contrast between humor and divinity is what O'Connor was shooting for in her works - meaning that by making "sinful" situations into humorous ones, the contrast between that and Christ-like actions would be more pronounced. In doing so, O'Connor is "unmasking the mock state of virtue."

So the comedy lies mostly in the fact that the grandmother is acting like such a virtuous and wonderful woman and meanwhile uses the children as a weapon at her disposal, brings along her cat despite Bailey's disapproval of the act, and tries to convince herself that she is a noble and upright citizen and that the Misfit couldn't possibly shoot a lady such as herself. And I guess if you look at it that way, it is funny. And so if everything else tragic in the world. Ah well...

Moira at 02:31 PM :: Comments (4) :: ::
Comments:

Well, the first part of the story has plenty of humor, including the grandmother's insistence that the kids should broaden their horizons and see more of the world, such as East Tennessee. And when June Star is complimented by the tavenkeeper's wife, and then immediately insults her. Even the gradmother's hope that she was severely injured in the accident, so that her son wouldn't yell at her, is funny.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 29, 2005 05:40 PM

Well, by the time I finished reading the academic article, I realized more what Askin was trying to say: about how Flannery O'Connor's stories are comedies that don't quite fit the usual patterns of comedy - in that, bam!, there's your ending and it definitely throws you for a loop. Askin says that the cyclic nature of comedy is thrown off by O'Connor's rather abrupt endings, which, I suppose, is exactly the feeling O'Connor was shooting for with her work. :c)

Posted by: moira at January 29, 2005 09:19 PM

Yes! Another confused person! I understand the article a little more now, how the comedy isn't laugh-out-loud funny exactly. It's a more ironic humor. I still think another word than "comedy" could have been used.

Posted by: Nessa at January 30, 2005 12:30 PM

If you thought you didn't understand the Askin article... the London one makes my head spin!

Posted by: moira at January 30, 2005 05:36 PM
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