“That’s right,” the old woman said. “You from around here?”

If one is to explain what it means to speak of the shape of a figure in a painting, or of a word in a poem, as 'right' or 'wrong', one cannot ignore the question of what it is for a work of art to reveal something to us. For the right word or phrase the word or phrase which can show us something, where an alternative, which in other circumstances might serve equally well, cannot. (60)

Walker, Alice. . San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.
Photo provided by Flickr

The Catholic writer, insofar as he has the mind of the Church, will feel life from the standpoint of the central Christian mystery: that it has, for all its horror, been found by God to be worth dying for. But this should enlarge, not narrow, his field of vision. (, p.146)

“Name Tom T. Shiftlet,” he murmured, looking at the tires.

“Nothing is like it used to be, lady,” he said. “The world is almost rotten.”
Photo provided by Flickr

The boy bent over her and stared at the long pink-gold hair and the half-shut sleeping eyes. Then he looked up and stared at Mr. Shiftlet. “She looks like an angel of Gawd,” he murmured.

“No’m, I don’t,” Mr. Shiftlet said.

The old woman and her daughter were sitting on their porch when Mr. Shiftlet came up their road for the first time. The old woman slid to the edge of her chair and leaned forward, shading her eyes from the piercing sunset with her hand. The daughter could not see far in front of her and continued to play with her fingers. Although the old woman lived in this desolate spot with only her daughter and she had never seen Mr. Shiftlet before, she could tell, even from a distance, that he was a tramp and no one to be afraid of. His left coat sleeve was folded up to show there was only half an arm in it and his gaunt figure listed slightly to the side as if the breeze were pushing him. He had on a black town suit and a brown felt hat that was turned up in the front and down in the back and he carried a tin tool box by a handle. He came on, at an amble, up her road, his face turned toward the sun which appeared to be balancing itself on the peak of a small mountain.

“That’s right,” he admitted. “She wouldn’t give me any trouble.”

Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 25, 1925, Flannery O’Connor was a graduate of the Georgia State College for Women and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She lived for short periods in New York and Connecticut, and did a brief residence at Yaddo, a writer’s colony in upstate New York, before returning home to Georgia when her health began to fail. Her first novel, Wise Blood, was published in 1952, and her first collection of stories, A Good Man Is Hard To Find, in 1955. Her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away, was published in 1960. She died on August 3, 1964, but her work continued to receive acclaim after her death; she received the National Catholic Book Award in 1966 for Everything That Rises Must Converge and the National Book Award in 1971 for The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor.

Mr. Shiftlet eased his position on the steps.

Mr. Shiftlet stopped just inside the yard and set his box on the ground and tipped his hat at her as if she were not in the least afflicted; then he turned toward the old woman and swung the hat all the way off. He had long black slick hair that hung flat from a part in the middle to beyond the tips of his ears on either side. His face descended in forehead for more than half its length and ended suddenly with his features just balanced over a jutting steel-trap jaw. He seemed to be a young man but he had a look of composed dissatisfaction as if he understood life thoroughly.