Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

English

Major Professor

Thomas F. Haddox

Committee Members

Allen R. Dunn, William J. Hardwig, Katherine T. Chiles

Abstract

The purpose of this study will be to begin to answer the question, “What is ‘justice’ in the work of Flannery O’Connor?” by approaching three stories—“The Comforts of Home,” “The Partridge Festival,” and finally “Everything that Rises Must Converge.” Each of these stories applies pressure to both individual and social conceptions of justice while fixating primarily on individuals’ just or unjust convictions and principles, usually in tension with those of their family or community. Flannery O’Connor’s work, while it seriously questions the possibility of “perfect” justice among a fallen humanity, exemplifies the paradoxes that arise from the contingency of our conceptions of justice based on her characters’ orientation to human conflict and suffering. My central claim will be that justice, in O’Connor’s work, is always preceded by a love ethic that transcends political realities and familial dysfunction, and because of this, political and governmental arbiters of justice are unable to achieve it completely.

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