In reading three of Flannery O’Connor’s stories, “Good Country People”, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, and “Revelation”, I have found that she, as a good writer, applied all of the terms I have been learning throughout the semester. I have chosen to use “Revelation” as an example in my challenge to show jus how O’Connor has used the terms I have learned.
In the plot, Flannery O’Connor begins the exposition in the first paragraph. The scene is set in a doctors waiting room, small and full. She also introduces the protagonist, who is Mrs. Ruby Turpin. The story progresses with Mrs. Turpin looking around the small room and sort of measuring everyone up or putting them in her classes. Starting with the antagonist, Mary Grace, who did not like the looks of Mrs. Turpin at all. Then she moves on to the “white-trash” as she calls them who are just sitting there.
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The conflict starts when Mary Grace with no warning throws her book at Mrs. Turpin and hits her over her left eye and starts choking and shaking her violently. Then to the climax when Mary grace tells Mrs. Turpin, “Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog.” After that Mrs. Turpin, later on in the story, has an epiphany where she sees a swinging bridge extend up towards heaven and sees souls moving upwards. First were the white-trash, then the black folks, then the freaks and lunatics, and at the very end she sees herself, whom she always put on top of the list. She realizes that God did not intend for her to divide people into different classes because in the end it does not matter. So the conclusion of the story is that Mrs. Turpin, even though she did not have a rite of passage, learned not to judge people and that she was not as high and might as she thought she once was.
The narrator of the story seemed to be a non-participant in third person. This is so because the narrator did not appear to in or a part of the story, but mostly standing aside and telling what he or she was seeing. Because the narrator is a non-participant, I also believe that the narrator has limited omniscience. I believe this because, as the reader, I see the story unfold from third person, but also through the thoughts and feelings of Mrs. Turpin. This particular story is told well in third person because the reader can see the story unfold without getting a one sided story. If the narrator had been a participating character then the reader would get only how that person felt about the events and would not get the whole truth behind the story. The fact that the narrator had limited omniscience helped with the story alto also. The thoughts of the characters, other than Mrs. Turpin, would not have added to the story any. Although it would have gave the story a little humor maybe, if some of Mary Grace’s thoughts had been put in. As I was reading the story, I was kind of interested in wondering what Mary Grace was thinking about Mrs. Turpin. Now that I think of it, I believe all three of O’Connor’s stories has the same narrator. They are all non-participants with limited omniscience.
Characters is the next subject to address with this story. In reading “Revelation” I can not say that any of the characters were round. They all seemed to be flat because O’Connor does not go into much detail with any of them. I think all of the characters are flat because I did not see more than one personality for any of them. I see Mrs. Turpin, who is the protagonist, as a well mannered women. She is a church women and is very pleasant to everyone, but that is all I know about her. If she had been a round character, then I would have been able to see her in more than one way. There is Claud, Mrs. Turpin’s husband, who is the reason Mrs. Turpin is at the doctors office because of an ulcer on Claud’s leg. Claud seems to be very dependent on Mrs. Turpin to tell him what to do at every minute of the day, and Claud is also a flat character because, again, he is a one sided character. The next character worth mentioning is Mary grace for the simple fact that she is the antagonist and she again is a flat character. All I know about Mary Grace is that she really hates Mrs. Turpin for some reason.
Mrs. Turpin is the only dynamic character in the story because she goes through a change by having an epiphany at the end of the story. She realizes that he is not as high and mighty as she thought when Mary Grace called hr a “wart hog from hell.” All of the other characters mentioned are all static for the simple fact that they stayed the same and did not change. In all three of O’Connor’s stories here is always that one character who is dynamic or goes though a moment of violence and has an epiphany or rite of passage that makes them such a character.
The setting takes place at a doctor’s office waiting room. O’Connor chose this for a setting because it is a place of healing.
The tone of the story is light, in other words, it is no sad and it is no humorous. O’Connor did not seem to use any favoritism with any of her characters and she explained Mrs. Turpin thoroughly. Her style is dialogue and good sized sentences, nothing like Faulkner though thank goodness. In all three of her short stories that I have read, I noticed that she just tells her story and does not try to impress her vocabulary on her audience. Her stories are good and she keeps the same style and diction with all three.
I think the theme of the story is that no one is better than any one else whether color of the skin or whether or not they are poor or well off. Mrs. Turpin put herself at the to of the lists she would make and talked about how good she is and how lucky and happy and blessed. Mrs. Turpin maybe the best Christian in the would, but she still puts down the little people. Like in page 418 paragraph 23, “Sometimes at night when she couldn’t go to sleep, Mrs. Turpin would occupy herself with the question of who she would have chosen to be if she couldn’t have been herself. If Jesus had said to her before he made her, “There’s only two places available for you. You can either be a nigger or white-trash. “Please, Jesus, please,” she would have said, “just let me wait until there’s another place available.” I think that is not right, everyone is the same and no one has the right to think that they are better than someone else.
The theme is also human vs. human, human vs. self, and human vs. God. It is human vs. human because of Mary Grace hitting Mrs. Turpin with the book and strangling her. That lead to human vs. self when Mrs. Turpin realized she was all she thought she was. The story is also human vs. God because at the end of the story Mrs. Turpin I yelling at God asking, “Why me? It’s no trash around here, black or with, that I haven’t given to.” She does not understand why God sent her that message through Mary Grace.
There are only a few symbols that I picked up on. The setting, for one, is a symbol because a doctor’s office is a place where people get cured or healed and Mrs. Turpin got hers only not by a doctor. Another one is the book Mary Grace was reading “Human Development.” The book is a symbol because that is what the whole story is about.
For my denouement, I just want to say that I enjoyed reading O’Connor’s stories because they actually have meaning and was written in a way that a normal person could understand. She has used all of the vocabulary that I have learned through the semester and she is an excellent writer, in my opinion.
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