The Gross and Grotesque in Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor is known for her regional, Christian, gothic, grotesque writing. We see all these elements in her short stories. Flannery O'Connor's fiction generates strong reactions because of her use of the gross and grotesque. According to Gilbert Muller, "Flannery O'Connor began writing about the grotesque because she could, and she readily admitted it in a letter to James Farham. O'Connor explained, Essentially the reason my characters are grotesque is because it is the nature of my talent to make them so" (21).
I think that Flannery O'Connor uses the grotesque in her writing because it shocks readers and makes them realize the moral point she is expressing. I feel that the application of the grotesque comes from her religious background and viewpoints. However, it is not just a gothic view of the grotesque. There is also a touch of humor in her writing. I think she mostly uses grotesque aspects to demonstrate the diminished state that her characters are in and how far they have to go for redemption. Muller states that, "Flannery O'Connor was successful in character depiction because she realized that the grotesque was the ideal vehicle for objectifying fears, obsessions and compulsion" (21).
Flannery O'Connor took everyday situations and confrontations, such as a visit to the doctor's office and filled it with horror. I think that she used these everyday encounters to help her readers visualize that these typical horror scenes surround us. According to Muller, "O'Connor's characters are induced to distortions in character and that the individual is floundering in a sea of contradictions and incongruities (27). Muller also goes on to say that the typical grotesque character in O'Connor's fiction is an individual who projects certain extreme mental states which, while psychologically valid, are not investigations in the tradition of psychological realism" (22). Often I f...