Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor's Name

Bruce Harvey

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Phillip Marcus

Third Advisor's Name

Nathaniel Cadle

Keywords

FLANNERY, O'CONNOR, RELIGION, CULTURE, LANGUAGE, SOUTH, BIBLE, CHRISTIANITY, SOUTHERN, VALUES.

Date of Defense

11-9-2010

Abstract

The purpose of this analysis was to explore how social and cultural values in the South determine meaning in Flannery O’Connor’s fiction. Since Christianity is the predominant religion in the South, only O’Connor’s stories with obvious Christian themes and characters were chosen.

Several modern literary theories, along with select criticism of O’Connor’s literature, were used to investigate the fluidity of words and their corresponding meanings in O’Connor’s fiction. Although Flannery O’Connor’s language and depictions are often open-ended, there were definite bounds located, namely, Biblical allusions and Southern cultural standards.

These findings demonstrated that the language in O’Connor’s fiction is neither an arbitrary system nor is it driven by the author’s history or intent. It is, therefore, recommended that a cultural approach be applied to Flannery O’Connor’s literature if the goal is to comprehend her religious themes.

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