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April 3, 2007

What of the peacock?

O'Connor, "The Displaced Person" -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Mrs. Shortley had the sudden intuition that the Gobblehooks, like rats with typhoid fleas, could have carried all those murderous ways over the water with them directly to this place."

I didn't really enjoy this story very much. I thought it was way too long and kind of redundant at points. Nonetheless, the characters are quite interesting. A lot of things were foreshadowed in this story. I'm pretty sure that at this point (the quote above) I knew that someone was going to be murdered. The more Mrs. Shortley talked about the Guizacs the more I realized that Mr. Guizac would be killed.

I also really enjoyed the peacock's presence in this story. What did you guys think it was symbolic of, or why do you think O'Connor put this in there?

I thought of a bunch of different things, one being that similar to the last peacock, Mrs. Mcyintire is the last person left on the farm, when she dies, it's over.

Posted by CheraPupi at April 3, 2007 11:29 AM


I can see that Jen, and I think I agree with you too. What, then, do you think about the priest's holding all of the different colored feathers in his hand? Do you think that should make us feel like the priest IS a good character in this story? I saw that was a topic of discussion on other people's blogs.

Posted by: Chera Pupi at April 3, 2007 10:18 PM

Well said, Jennifer. I agree with your interpretation of the peacock 100%. To add on to your statement, I must point out that once Mrs. McIntyre takes over the farm after the Judge's death, the once many peacocks eventually dwindle down to one. This diminishing of the peacocks on the farm could symbolize the affect that ignorance, specifically in this case, racism, have on society. Mrs. McIntyre does not value or fully understand the differences existent within mankind, thus the brightly colored eclectic looking peacocks are unappreciated for their true beauty and begin to die out.

Posted by: Ellen Einsporn at April 3, 2007 7:27 PM

I also thought it was neat that as the farm continues to go downhill the peacock population decreases, from twenty when the Judge is mentioned to just a couple at the end. I believe, somewhere in the story, Mrs. McIntyre said something about letting them die off, and I thought it was odd because that was almost the same thing we were doing to the Polish at the time (I'm assuming). Instead of protecting them and helping them, we were giving them just enough to save a few and letting the rest die off, like she was giving the peacocks food to live on, but not really caring if they lived or died.

Posted by: HallieGeary at April 3, 2007 3:01 PM

To be honest, I wasn't fully sure of what the peacock stood for. After reading Ellen's blog, I think I have a better understanding. (http://blogs.setonhill.edu/EllenEinsporn/2007/04/we.html) There is racism in this story. As Ellen stated in her blog, everyone is the same in the sense that we are all human. There may be different races, but what is race really? The peacock is more than one color. O'Connor even makes a point to mention this fact. Each of the different colored feathers on the peacock work together to keep the bird covered just like each of the different races work together to form the human race.

Posted by: Jennifer Prex at April 3, 2007 2:02 PM

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