Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Storyteller's Perspective

One thing is certain throughout "The Violent Bear it Away": Flannery O'Connor has incredible insight into how to tell a story.  This continuously hit me while reading this story, and interestingly enough, not in the way it normally does through her ] descriptions of people and places, where her words seem to paint a picture one cannot help but imagine.  No, this story is different, because the entire beginning is predominantly about a speaker and storyteller.

O'Connor's picture of Tarwater's fearsome character of a prophet uncle telling him the stories of the attempted conversion of "the schoolteacher", Tarwater's own personal kidnapping, and even the brief tales of his desspised mother and aunt's deaths all are so unique in the details of how they are told.  In the way O'Connor describes how the prophet breaths, looks, gestures, shouts, and whispers, an entirely new visual of the storytelling is reached. That's one of the most striking things about reading Flannery O'Connor to me, and it's most apparent in "The Violent Bear it Away": There is no such thing as passively reading anything written by her.  She forces you to see, feel, taste, hear, laugh, and recoil with her and her characters.  I think that's what makes her use of the grotesque so powerful, while it would be a much weaker tool in the hands of less talented authors.

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