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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

13. Southern Renaissance

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Activities: Author Activities

Flannery O'Connor - Author Questions

Back Back to Flannery O'Connor Activities
  1. Comprehension: What is the significance of the names of O'Connor's characters such as Tom T. Shiftlet, Mrs. Hopewell, or Mrs. Freeman? Why might O'Connor name her characters in this way?

  2. Comprehension: What is the role of the Freemans in "Good Country People"? Why does Mrs. Hopewell "keep" them? What does that mean?

  3. Context: In the opening scene of "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," Tom T. Shiftlet says, "Lady, people don't care how they lie. Maybe the best I can tell you is, I'm a man; but listen lady . . . what is a man?" Why does Shiftlet ask such a question? Shiftlet also talks about the doctor who cuts out human hearts, denies he has any concern for money, and is unmistakably preoccupied with the car in the garage. What might these references symbolize? How do these aspects of Shiftlet's character relate to the changing South in the 1930s?

  4. Exploration: In an essay entitled "Writing Short Stories" (from the collection Mystery and Manners), O'Connor wrote that "the great advantage of being a southern writer is that we don't have to go anywhere to look for manners; bad or good, we've got them in abundance. We in the South live in a society that is rich in contradiction, rich in irony, rich in contrast, and particularly rich in its speech." How does O'Connor make use of the richness of the South as she identifies it here? Do other southern writers seem to share O'Connor's assessment of the South, or do they portray it as something different?

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