Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor, a native of Georgia, lived a life cut short by lupus, a deadly blood disease. Still, she refused sentimentality, as evident in her extremely humorous yet bleak and uncompromising stories. Unlike Porter, Welty, and Hurston, O'Connor most often held her characters at arm's length, revealing their inadequacy and silliness. The uneducated southern characters who people her novels often create violence through superstition or religion, as we see in her novel Wise Blood (1952), about a religious fanatic who establishes his own church.

Sometimes violence arises out of prejudice, as in "The Displaced Person," about an immigrant killed by ignorant country people who are threatened by his hard work and strange ways. Often, cruel events simply happen to the characters, as in "Good Country People," the story of a girl seduced by a man who steals her artificial leg.

The black humor of O'Connor links her with Nathanael West and Joseph Heller. Her works include short story collections (A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965); the novel The Violent Bear It Away (1960); and a volume of letters, The Habit of Being (1979). Her Complete Stories came out in 1971.