Document Type

Class Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2016


The most startling definition of monsterI have encountered belongs to Mandy-Suzanne Wong: “It’s what people say when they can’t think of any way to describe [something] that stands a chance of being accurate” (6). Yet there are many other qualities of monsters, such as duality—a monster is never whole, but discrete pieces that have been lurched together haphazardly; the most iconic example of this is Frankenstein’s monster, assembled out of bits of corpses and animated with a sacrosanct, unmentionable power. No less worthy as examples, however, are the strange characters of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories—contradictory beasts whose struggles seem both to pull them towards and away from O’Connor’s central Grace. Robert Y. Drake Jr. puts into words why her monsters are so powerful: “Her distortions are always functional, serving to embody outwardly the inner horror of sin which is her principal concern” (qtd. in Snow 287). When O’Connor juxtaposes characters’ separate dimensions in the same way that horror writers juxtapose those same dimensions of characters like Dracula or Frankenstein, she reveals a deeper truth about them. Three of these characters stand out as particularly worth of analysis: Hulga Freeman and Manley Pointer of “Good Country People,” and O.E. Parker of “Parker’s Back.” These characters all have in common the lies they do not recognize about themselves, the internal tensions that are pulling them apart, tensions which O’Connor uses to reflect humanity’s inner turmoil.