Flannery O'Connor wrote secular fiction with a religious intent. In this paper, I review the moments of grace that come mysteriously into O'Connor's short fiction, specifically "The Displaced Person," "A View of the Woods," and "Revelation." These short stories demonstrate different stages in the process of gaining spiritual vision. O'Connor's short fiction works in the same way that religious literature does, particularly the Gospels. The short story form caters to the religious experience in that everything yields to the final realization of the character(s), and possibly the reader, in the moment of grace. Throughout this paper, I concentrate on the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is composed of dualistic imagery of light vs. darkness. O'Connor uses similar dualistic imagery in her work and the moments of grace many times involve darkness and suffering. My claim is that this is not punishment or moral lesson, but an awakening. Just as the miracles of Jesus in the Gospel of John are meant to be windows into the reality of God, so are the moments of grace in 0' Connor's fiction. Although I concentrate on O'Connor's Catholic-Christian voice when addressing her fiction, a reader, whether Christian or not, is able to experience O'Connor's work because it involves a secular epiphany that can potentially touch the reader by enlarging his or her vision. O'Connor found inspiration in the Catholic Church, although even without Christian knowledge, her fiction has the effect of widening the reader's view beyond morality, politics, social criticism, and ordinary human drama to a vision of what is distant and mysterious. Characters are dramatically changed, and her attempt is to sensitize readers to the possibility of the spiritual realm and the way that it intersects the physical. O'Connor's voice is prophetic in nature. She is writing redemptive fiction for a modem world that she feels needs desperately to be awakened to the way that God can, and will, reveal Himself. What 0' Connor achieves, in her fiction, is opening a window in time that readers might see a glimpse of the eternal and unchanging existence of God.


Graham, Mark

Second Advisor

Stewart, Larry L.


Religious Studies; English

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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