Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department


First Advisor

William Koon

Second Advisor

R. W. Keran

Third Advisor

Farrell B. Brown


Flannery O'Connor writes from the standpoint of Christian orthodoxy. That is the most sigificant point to consider in any study of her work. Her themes, here imagery, her grostequerie, her comedy -- all must be interpreted in the light of her Christian concerns. In particular, appearing over and over in her work in modern man searching for salvation in the false idols of the twentieth-century -- the city, modern technology, and secular philosphy and science. These idols invariably fail, leaving him ready for salvation through Christ. Along the way O'Connor employs images that effectively reveal the tawdriness, the emptiness, the artificiality, the desperation of modern life without the true salvation of Christ. Her modern searchers are memorable -- Haze Motes, Rayber and Tarwater, Tom T. Shiflett, Mr. Fortune, Ruby Hill, Mr. Head. And the images are unforgettable -- an artificial gold corsage, gaudy movie theaters, rhinestone-covered spectacles, sweet potato colored hair, the Walgreen drugstore. These images pervade O'Connor's work and illuminate the modern world -- the devil's territory. This paper will offer an interpretation of her work by examining her use of the imagery of the modern city and its accounterments. An introduction will briefly discuss the major critical approaches to O'Connor and their relationship to this thesis. The first chapter deals with A Good Man Is Hard to Find, the second with Everything That Rises Must Converge, and the third with The Violent Bear It Away. The last chapter will consider in detail Wise Blood, in which the use of imagery of the modern world appears most clearly, most pervasively, and most effectively.