The Value of Violence in Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction

“To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.” As soon as I read that sentence I underlined it. It’s in an essay from Flannery O’Connor’s occasional prose collection, Mystery and Manners. It was O’Connor’s response to a question about her violent stories featuring bitter, proud or petty characters caught in extraordinary and traumatic circumstances, often of their own making: she wrote the way she did in order to convey a vision of sin and grace to a secular, rationalistic culture that was “hard of hearing” and “almost blind” to these…

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