Tough Little Girl


Why is Flannery such a Catholic writer and not just a writer, or not just a writer who’s Catholic? I think it’s the tough little girls in her stories.

The tough little girls are the wise ones. They’re survivors. They see the two contradictory elements of truth that sum up the Catholic vision: on the one hands the supernatural present everywhere, and on the other hand, the gritty no nonsense hardness of the real world.
So O’Connor endorses the miraculous, seeing God’s glory crammed into every living thing, and spilling over into miracles of providence and curious twists of enlightenment. On the other hand, she is totally, utterly no nonsense. She takes no c**p from nobody.
I delight in the way she exposes the conceited, unrealistic, shallow and immature intellectuals with the violent, bizarre and wildly ordinary folk. She rips social conventions, hypocrisy and shallow self righteousness at the same time exalting genuine innocence, goodness and naivety. She also exposes the individualistic, anarchical, insanity that is the logical result of sectarian Protestantism, and she does so by showing that the uptight, self righteous, ‘sane’ social Protestants are just as looped as the fanatical kooks. Mrs Greenleaf the ‘prayer healer’ and self righteous Mrs May are equally grotesque.  
Often the sane person in the story is a tough little girl. The wisdom of God is revealed to the little children remember…This recent read through of her fiction is full of treasures. In A Temple of the Holy Ghost you almost yell with joy as the tough little wise wild child cries out, “Lord, Lord, thank you that I am not in the Church of God!”

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15880407765317550979 Afro Seminarian

    “She rips social conventions, hypocrisy and shallow self righteousness at the same time exalting genuine innocence, goodness and naivety.”Dont be too quick to shout her praise. In a recent Book about O’conner, There is diconncet between what she wrote and how she lived in the south in regards to the RACE issue. Somehow this always gets overlooked.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Nobody’s perfect

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17027978462507701844 J A F

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01960521706457744649 Tara

    “So O’Connor endorses the miraculous, seeing God’s glory crammed into every living thing, and spilling over into miracles of providence and curious twists of enlightenment.”Oh, you make me want to read the book!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07217936266957675449 Donna

    I adore her letters, “The Habit of Being.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    As you may know, Father, there’s a lengthy discussion over on Catholic Insight and now on InsideCatholic about “Catholic fiction,” the current dearth, fiction phobia of Catholic publishers, etc. I belong to that school which declares that we have Catholic fiction when real Catholics write fiction (like O’Conner). But fiction that carries some kind of Catholic “message” is dead indeed (and should be). OTOH, I do wish Catholic publishers weren’t so fiction-phobic.AFRO-SEMINARIAN:I don’t want to say something offensive here, but someties some things just need to be said. Try to get past the race-obsessiveness. If you stay there, it makes *you* racist. Consider The Merchant of Venice for a moment. Was Shakespeare an anti-semite? That topic gets debated by every generation of students. The answer is yes, of course he was. He was the product of his time–just as you and I are. Don’t commit the anachronistic moral and logical error of holding historical persons accountable for the errors of their time. If you do, you just perpetuate all the problems. Judge the work by its own merits, not its creator’s. If we demand moral perfection from our writers, not only will nothing ever be written, but we ourselves will be guilty of the very crime we accuse them of.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15880407765317550979 Afro Seminarian

    The Life You Save May Be Your Own:An American PilgrimageBy Paul EliePlease read this book, it is an excellent biography of O’conner along with 3 other Catholic authors. Please dont get me wrong, I am not in any way trying to down playthe talent of O’conner, She is a great Catholic writer, I just wanted to point out that there are other opinions of her work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17027978462507701844 J A F

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17027978462507701844 J A F

    She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.A Temple of the Holy Ghost- Flannery O’Connor

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12626318090077482286 DNA002

    I love your literary postings – your Brideshead ones sent me scurrying back to Waugh, and now I’m off to find some Flannery O’Connor. I teach English, and one of the things I love about being a Catholic convert (in which your books played no small part – ‘The Path to Rome’ and ‘More Christianity’ especially. Many, many thanks! ) is the freedom to enjoy the creative arts, inspired as they are by a creative God. One of the many depressing things about Evangelical Protestantism as I experienced it was a fear of the arts – one vicar dismissed my entire library as so much ‘rubbish.’ He recommended the Frank Peretti books from the pulpit, by the way! Anyway, thanks and God bless you.Ruth Parsons

  • http://krishan.info/id/ Clare

    For those like me who wish for more ‘tough little girls’ in their Catholic fiction to counterbalance the sentimental idea of femininity that some would have us believe is God’s idea of womanhood, read Mary Shivanandan’s article(*) “Sentiment and Sentimentality: Woman’s Choice” at Catholic Educator’s Resource Guidehttp://catholiceducation.org/articles/feminism/fe0018.html I quote: _____One husband referred to his wife’stough love: she once told him that she might not have married him if he had insisted on a chemical form of family planning. He described his experience of marital sexuality using natural family planning (which enjoins abstinence during the fertile phase if the couple seek to avoid pregnancy) as “a mixture of pain and redemption.” He discovered that the difficulty with the abstinence period was not so much continence but what continence revealed, that he was continually tempted to place genital intimacy before true relational intimacy. “Continence,” he says, “does me a favor. It provides me with a “rhythmic” opportunity to make sure it is love and intimacy, not sex, which bind me to my wife.”And apropos Sunday’s Gospel on the “Pearl of Great Price” try rereading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter all the while imagining the symbolism of the | A | for today’s culture: how many moralistic-therapeutic-deist-sentimentalists have driven young women (**) — girlfriends, wives, daughters, even female clients of Catholic social services on the West Coast — to reject the epithet Adultress in favor of the epithet Abortress burned indelibly into their bodies/ psyche (note with the healing grace of Divine Mercy, the wound to their soul is delible, deo gratias!) For them, no sentimental reconciliation by the brookside with the unborn witness to sin . . .http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/scarletletter/19/this side of Eternity. Other readers like me who harbor a penchant for literary treatments of Peter’s first epistle, in order to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” may enjoy the pre-Chaucerian poem “Pearl” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_(poem)_________________* ABSTRACT: “Women’s responsive and receptive nature, as wife and mother, is expressed by empathy, sensitivity and openness to others. This exposes her to the temptation to place affection (sentiment) above reason and objective truth. Only when she acknowledges the fullness of the image of God in herself and places her own integrity and obedience to God’s law above sentiment does she avoid the destructive path of sentimentality.”_________________** Note to AfroSeminarian: a majority of them, it must be said sadly, are African American, reflecting a ‘sentimentalist’ self-loathing of tragic proportions . . .

  • http://krishan.info/id/ Clare

    In the spirit of “What is presumed is not redeemed” | Clare | meant to sign herself off with a hopeful petition to Our Lord’s merciful compassion Misericordia Domini Clare Krishan H/T Tom Kreitzberghttp://disputations.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html#6075385970572131403


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