Flannery O’Connor: Greenleaf

Deal Me In – Week 22

8♥  8♥  8♥  8♥  8♥  8♥  8♥  8♥

She became aware after a time that the noise was the sun trying to burn through the tree line and she stopped to watch, safe in the knowledge that it couldn’t, that it had to sink the way it always did, outside of her property.

The Eight of Hearts in my Deal Me In 2015 project this week brought me to the brilliant, funny and, more often than not, disturbing Flannery O’Connor.  Her story “Greenleaf” is another one included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century.  I find this story a little more traditional by O’Connor standards but it still has the oddities I’ve come to appreciate in her work.

Flannery O'Connor

(Photo obtained from goodreads.com)

The reader gets an “ear full” from the narrator, Mrs. May. The bulk of the story is Mrs. May’s perspective on the world – well, her world, anyway – especially in respect to her hired hand Mr. Greenleaf and his family.  On the flip side, the reader gains a significant understanding of Mr. Greenleaf’s perspective by only a few comments scattered throughout the story, all of which are directed to Mrs. May.

In Mrs. May’s mind, there is a vast difference between herself and Mr. Greenleaf on the social ladder.  Mr. Greenleaf, and I have to think O’Connor also, sees Mrs. May perhaps on the very next rung up only a few inches from himself.  A bull that invades Mrs. May’s farm fleshes out the animosity between the two people.  For those who have not read O’Connor before, the end may come as a shock; however, if you are familiar with her work, the story’s ending won’t be a surprise but will still be satisfying.

Occasionally, I find fascination in minor aspects of stories.  In “Greenleaf”, I enjoyed the names of Mrs. May’s sons, Wesley and Scofield.  As I also liked the names of Mr. Greenleaf’s sons, O.T and E.T.

My Deal Me In 2015 list can be seen here. Deal Me In 2015 is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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3 responses to “Flannery O’Connor: Greenleaf

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In 2015 – Week 22 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

  2. O Connor is one of my favorite writers. I’m in the middle of reading through her works for the second time. I read Greenleaf not too long ago. O Connor likes to expose the artificial snobbery and self-created class divisions that existed in the South. I think a lot of this thinking came from post Civil War culture. Or some kind of antiquated aristocracy.

    It’s interesting to me how O Connor shows how clueless the protagonist is. They cannot perceive that their thinking is obsolete, even though it’s obvious to everyone else.

    You’re right. Her endings are gruesome but I think she is trying to make a point that our existence exceeds this life time.

    • O’Connor has become one of my favorites, also. I have an anthology of all her short stories, but haven’t read all of them yet. I would also be interested in reading her non-fiction. I would think she would have a lot to say.

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