Topic of Discussion: Flannery O’Connor

I’m doing this because it has been twice suggested to me that this would be a cool idea.

So I’m tossing this out there: who has read O’Connor’s short story A Temple of the Holy Ghost?

Thoughts? Observations?

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4 Responses to Topic of Discussion: Flannery O’Connor

  1. Steve says:

    Pretty busy right now, but will try to put down some thoughts in the next few days.

  2. Stu says:

    Shootin’ from the hip here, Ron:

    This short story from Flannery touches on the sensitive issue of puberty versus discovery of sex, entertainment to the young girl, and amusing to the two sisters facing it. Then the live grenade of a hermaphrodite thrown into the story adds further confusion to the matter, flashing genitalia in a sort of predisclosure the girls might receive in the back seat after the fair. Flannery never misses opportunity to throw Catholicism into the mix either, showing how boorish boys are the non-Catholic, singing-out-of-tune Church o’ God-ders, whilst the nunnery pupils are somehow the Godly Righteous in their recitation of Mass songs sung in Latin. Typical FC.

    That’s from the hip.

    Just one more thought for now: Perhaps Flannery, in her spinsterhood, views boys/men as distastefully as she does non-Catholic believers. Was she a closet lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or possibly hermaphrodite herself?

    Can’t wait to hear the opines from Vermont! And yours, Ron!

  3. Ron Giesecke says:

    Okay . . . here goes. I like your take on it.

    I was also thinking that she was broaching the subject of consecration in the most vulgar of violations–at least in the visual form.

    I was first wondering whether the little girl’s boiling down of the two boys’ hymns were O’Connor’s own theological axes being ground, or whether she was imposing a distorted caricature in the mind of an adolescently-irrational twelve-year-old–you know the “awkward girl slugs boy in the arm” kind of interaction. But you may be right.

    As to the hermaphrodite; I was thinking: we were first presented to the two girls, sort of pillorying their boundaries by taking the precautionary speeches of being a “Temple” as a the primary violation.

    Then, they are unchaperoned at the fair which is sort of a secondary breach of boundaries, and perhaps the girls (and boys) were planning on some sort of minor, indiscreet, exploratory moment.

    The came the tertiary violation. Being raised to not show body parts to the opposite sex, here is a man with both. Not just endowed with biological plumbing that is exposed to each other, but also belonging to a distorted personality with no compunction about showing it to others for a living.

    So now,anyone not seriously wrestling with the idea that our “bodies are the temple . . . ” are now struggling with the idea that it goes much deeper–not to mention the irony not lost on them that any NON-hermaphrodiditc person doing this would simply be called a “flasher.”

    But ultimately the story says to me: They were shocked into contemplations to which they had previously only devoted prima facie attendance.


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