March/April 2018: Misfits & Mystics: Flannery O’Connor and Friends

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Grace and the Grotesque: Redemption in the Southern Literature of Flannery O’Connor – Veronica A. Arntz

To our softened, modern sensibilities, the stories of Flannery O’Connor are shocking. They are seemingly dark with despair, fraught with the destruction of the inno- cent, and devoid of happiness or joy. In a word, her stories are part of the Southern genre called “grotesque”, which radically contradicts the modern desire for positivity and uplifting sentimentalities. It may be even more shocking to some that Flannery is a Catholic author, especially as her stories seem to portray everything but the hope of Christ’s Resurrection. And yet, beneath the grotesque surface, Flannery is deeply theo- logical, and the mystery of Christ is a con- stant theme in her stories, even if it is veiled behind the sufferings of life. Understanding the baptized imagination of Flannery O’Connor requires us to see that the redemption from sin and suffering, won for us by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, is continually operative within her stories.

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