Assignment # 3: Flannery O'Connor's violent epiphany (deadline 1/4/2016)

In her short stories, Flannery O’Connor brings her characters to a moment of epiphany when it is no longer possible for them to return to the old ways of life.The proud are humbled, the ignorant are enlightened, and the hypocritical are forced to recognize that the discrepancy between their smug surface and its hollow spirituality is the proof of their inadequacy in the eyes of God.  For O’Connor, this epiphanal moment can only be achieved by violence and destruction: “In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace….  We hear many complaints about the prevalence of violence in modern fiction, and it is always assumed that this violence is a bad thing and meant to be an end in itself.  With the serious writer, violence is never an end in itself.  It is the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially” (“On Her Own Work”).

In the three stories we read (“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge”), can you find any “moments of epiphany” which are produced in extreme violent situations? How do these violent situations “reveal” the hidden message of God? What mysterious transformations have the characters undergone when they are shocked into an awareness of their smug ignorance? Write an essay of 250-300 words.