The Cross-Pressure of Flannery O'Connor

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  • This thesis examines Charles Taylor’s concept of “cross-pressure” as illustrated in Flannery O’Connor’s two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away. Taylor argues that ever since the emergence of “exclusive humanism” humanity has been forced to inhabit an “open space” in which the “cross-pressure” of world views has characterized its experience and rendered any form of “naïve faith” impossible. This thesis will illustrate how O’Connor’s novels reflect this “open space” and the “cross-pressure” with which it is assailed, subjecting characters and reader alike to a fundamental ambiguity concerning the structure of reality. Accordingly, it will argue against the situating of O’Connor’s work strictly within the limits of grotesque realism and in favor of situating it on the border of the grotesque and the fantastic, this latter being characterized as obliging the reader “to hesitate between a natural and supernatural explanation of the events described”.

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  • Copyright © 2013 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2013


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