Document Type

Poster Presentation

Celebration Date

Spring 2012

Abstract

Scholarship on the works of Flannery O’Connor is divided concerning her depiction of divine grace as a violent force. Some scholars worry that her insistence on the violence of grace makes God a violent God or excuses the pain and brokenness of the world. Despite the arguments of those who oppose O’Connor’s view of violent grace, this paper will argue that O’Connor is right to depict violence in her short stories because, although it might be counterintuitive to think of divine grace wounding before it heals, being torn from an old life of sin is painful. While not excusing violence or the perpetrators of violent acts, O’Connor’s theology shows how God uses violence for God’s purpose, making the effects of brokenness in this imperfect world into conduits for divine perfection and wholeness. This paper makes this argument through a close reading of O’Connor’s short story “Revelation,” along with examinations of O’Connor’s essays. O’Connor not only shows violence in her stories, but enacts a mimicry of violence upon the reader through her use of the grotesque. The idea of violence therefore permeates the shape of the narrative and the relationship between writer and reader.

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