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Flannery O’Connor: A Southern-Gothic writer (Coursework Sample)


For this paper, the student was required to show that Connor was a southern gothic writer. The number of pages required was five, with at least three sources (the type of sources required was not specified). The paper format was mla. I discussed the topic in two parts: the first part illustrated that Connor was a southern writer while the second part provided evidence that she was a gothic writer.


Flannery O’Connor: A Southern-Gothic writer
Literature scholars consider Flanner O’Connor one of the best writers the south has ever produced, alongside Caroline Gordon and William Faulkner. Consequently, scholars have debated the correct categorization of her work, with most of them arguing critics should categorize Connor’s writings in the southern-catholic genre because they illustrate catholic themes, such as grace and forgiveness. Nevertheless, research shows that Connor was a southern gothic writer rather than a southern-catholic author because she categorized herself as a southern writer, and her works illustrate gothic themes, such as death, violence, fear, and terror.
Connor as a Southern Writer
Many scholars consider Connor a Southern writer because the south is the setting of most of her stories. As others have established, her works represented the South’s social, economic, and historical situations at the time. She set her stories in the South because that is where she was born and raised, although she visited other countries, such as Italy and France, to give lectures about her work (Carmignani 1). Nevertheless, her visits to other regions and countries came late in her career, after doctors had diagnosed her with Lupus, meaning such visits did not affect her writing (Carmignani 2). However, some people might argue that she made other trips within the US, such as New York, which could have minimized the influence of her southern upbringing in her literary works. Whereas she made such trips, their influence in her writings was minimal because most of them addressed similar themes, which were majorly similar to the prevalent southern socioeconomic issues at the time (Carmignani 3). Moreover, others have argued that an author’s home location may not influence all their writings, suggesting it is wrong to define an author according to their birthplace. Whereas it is also true, research shows that a literary piece can mirror the author’s life, albeit not completely (Carmignani 4). Therefore, Connor and other artists born and raised in the south are considered Southern authors because it formed the setting for most of their stories.
A look at the characteristics of other short stories that critics considered southern and comparing these traits with those Connor’s writings depicted can illustrate the connection Connor had with the South. Researchers have established that most southern writings had a strong sense of place, with some southern authors suggesting that a place opens doors to the mind, implying that they got their writing inspiration from places. One explanation of how a place can inspire an author to write is that locations serve as archives, where a society’s memory is stored. Therefore, it can be retrieved and manipulated at will, explaining most southern stories’ origins. As other authors have put it, fictional truth originates from a place, and locations provide a strong identity, explaining why people associate themselves with places (Carmignani 10). Connor’s stories also had a strong identity of a place since she set most of her stories in the south, influencing some scholars to consider her a southern author.
Southern authors also consider time a complex and continuous function, connecting the past and the present, which influences an individual’s current life. Simply, research shows that most southern authors have a deep sense of time and the connection between the past and the present. It also reveals that these authors have a deep historical perspective, which allows them to view the south and the southern people’s growth or deterioration as a function of time. This conclusion is enshrined in various authors’ comments, such as an individual is a summation of his past experiences (Carmignani 10). It is also supported by sections of Southern authors’ writings, like Allen, who clarified the South’s progress did not imply its people forgot the past but acknowledged their remembrance of it (Carmignani 11). Connor’s stories have this deep sense of time where the past influences the main character’s actions in all her writings, explaining why literature fanatics consider her a southern writer.
Other scholars consider Connor a southern writer because most of the issues affecting the south at the time appear in her writings. Some of those issues included racism, poverty, and crime, which were prevalent in the south at the time. As some scholars noted, the story ‘Everything that rises must converge’, contains themes such as racism, violence, and poverty, which were the main elements of the southern genre (Gopikrishna and Anilpremraj 639). During Connor’s time, the south depended on slaves as a source of labor, even though other regions had abolished racism. These slaves were mainly from Africa, meaning they were black in white-dominated regions, raising racial tensions. Moreover, the south was relatively poor compared to other regions because of the defeat they had suffered while fighting the north. Consequently, ruins were common in the south, and writers used them as their stories’ settings (“Southern Literature”). The overlap between the themes Connor highlighted in her stories and the issues that plagued the south at that time further shows she was a southern writer.
Connor as a Gothic Writer
Some scholars have categorized Connor as a catholic writer, basing their arguments on facts such as she referred to herself as a catholic writer and that religious themes constantly appear in her writings. For example, Connor described one of her novels as a catholic novel, although there is no distinctive meaning of catholic writing. Nevertheless, she echoed her idea of such a genre in most of her letters and various public lectures in states such as Georgia. Further, she suggested that catholic novels had distinctive characteristics, such as the prevalence of religious themes and characters who were strict Catholics (Poggi 4). These characteristics are common in her two novels, meaning that if readers take a closer look at the themes portrayed in those novels, they can get an idea of what Connor considered catholic themes. Grace is a prevalent theme in Connor’s works because her main characters find redemption in her stories’ endings. Further, other themes, such as forgiveness and sin, also feature a lot in her writings, influencing some scholars to categorize her as a catholic writer (Poggi 6). However, considering her stories’ plots illustrates that she was not completely a catholic writer, but a gothic author.Connor’s plots and characters support why critics categorize her as a gothic writer rather than a catholic author. A gothic writer writes literature characterized by fear, terror, anxiety, which accompany prevalent sexual impulses, violence, and death. Scholars associate the beginning of Gothic literature to the south, which was plagued with disease, poverty, crime, racism, and violence, leading others to refer to it as the dark region. Tennessee Williams captured this association properly when she stated there was something about the south and its people that made it the center of the southern gothic genre (Bjerre). There is a lot of terror, violence, sex, and death in Connor’s book ‘Wise Blood’, which supports the idea that she was

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