Document Type

Class Paper

Publication Date

5-2017

Abstract

From her mother’s farm, Andalusia in Milledgeville, Georgia, Flannery O’Connor found her writing inspiration by observing the ways of the South. Naturally, a pervasive motif in her works is racism. For instance, in “Revelation” Ruby Turpin spends a good portion of the short story thanking God that she is neither white trash nor black. In her essay “Aligning the Psychological with the Theological: Doubling and Race in Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction,” Doreen Fowler points out that “[Ruby’s] insistence on setting racial boundaries has been an attempt to distinguish a white, superior identity” (81), equality with African Americans being Ruby Turpin’s ultimate fear. Similarly, in “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” Julian’s mother is appalled when an African American woman wears the same hat she does. Her greatest fear occurs when that woman steps onto the bus and they sit facing one another wearing the same hat. The racist fear of equality has existed in the South since before the Civil War, however this fear was not as dominant in the public spectrum after the War until O’Connor’s lifetime. In light of the Cold War and the spread of Communism during the 1940s-1950s, white southerners especially reverted back to the antebellum mindset in order to defend their superiority over blacks. In fact, O’Connor’s works in this time period have a heightened intensity of racial conflict as compared, for example, to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird in the 1960s. Her three short stories, “Judgement Day,” "The Displaced Person,” and “The Artificial N.,” use violent means to illustrate the fear whites had of equality with blacks that saturated the 1950s South as a result of Communism. I argue that in light of Communism spreading overseas, O’Connor’s writings demonstrate an increase in racist behavior as an attempt to maintain antebellum superior ways.

Comments

This paper was presented as part of the English capstone course, Senior Literature Seminar (ENGL 4903), taught by Dr. Amy Sonheim.