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Lions, Witches, and Proper Southern White Racist WomenOh My!

How the Puzzling and the Repellent in Literature Can Make a
Large Impact in the Christian Life
A Study of Flannery OConnor and C.S. Lewis

Angela LeBlanc
California Baptist University
Capstone Project
Spring 2006

Professor Dr. Lu
Reader: Professor David Isaacs

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I will never forget the day my very religious mother found J.R.R. Tolkiens The
Hobbit in my dads top dresser drawer. I must have been nine or ten years old. I remember the
worn paperback cover with its green vines and the little troll-like man on the cover, which I now
know must have been a drawing of Bilbo Baggins. She was irate. She stomped and stormed, she
prayed and cried. Not only had my father brought into our home the demons of his drunkenness
and debauchery, he had brought in a book of the devil, tainting our home with its witchcraft
and evil. After stomping around for a while, murmuring and whispering things that I didnt
really care about, she took the book outside and well, she burned it. I had seen her pour out beer
cans in the driveway. I watched her on occasion smash and ruin cigarette cartons. This was
interesting, because I never really thought about any book, of any kind, to really be dangerous or
bad, and, well, I happened to like books very much. This was all very confusing to me.
Later, I realized that my mother, as well as other churchgoing, religious people had many
issues with all kinds of art and literature. I was not allowed to listen to any music that was not
Christian music. I was not allowed to watch any kind of movies or television shows which
contained magic, witchcraft, or any other kind of outwardly blatant sin. I was not allowed to
read any sort of fantastical or horror-type literature. So, of course Stephen King was my first
choice read in high-school. I went to church seminars addressing art, music, and literature. I
especially remember learning once in a seminar that music with the electrical guitar played in it,
even Christian music, was of the devil. These people, along with my mother, were afraid of what
they did not understand, and therefore attempted to obliterate anything that came near showing

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any kind of spiritual danger. Thus, the art world, fantasy, and I were separated for a very long
I grew up with a very large faith in God. Because of very unstable circumstances
(poverty, abuse, and instability) abundant in my young life, I was able to recognize great
miracles and learned how to trust God for everything. However, I never really quite grasped
some important aspects of my faith. Some things were still really a quite a mystery. I didnt
understand the greatness of God. I couldnt grasp the idea of salvation, unmerited grace, and sin.
I had to believe in things that I couldnt see or even grasp. My questions were many: What
could heaven be like? How are we to be happy forever? What is forever? How can we forgive
really horrible actions? I didnt understand beauty, peace, humanity, or love. I dont think that
most of us ever will. However, when I was about twenty-four years old, and a mother of three
young children, I came across a book called, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
I had never even really heard of C.S. Lewis or read anything by him. It had been awhile
since I had been able to just sit down and read something. It was like fresh air. I finished it by
the next day. I soon discovered that it was part of a series of books and I knew immediately that
I must read them all. That was the beginning of my experience with fantasy as a Christian and a
really messy house. I never even thought to look at literature from a Christian point of view
before because those kinds of things were always so separate for me. Never before had I
experienced God and his mysteries like I had with Aslan and Lucy and Edmund. My eyes were
opened to new ideas and thoughts concerning my faith. Amazingly, I came to this experience
through witches, trolls, and talking animals. Even later, I discovered Flannery OConnor, a
Southern Catholic novelist. My first experience with her, I didnt even see anythingjust gross,

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shocking, well...weirdness. However, through closer inspection, her ideas of sin, the sinner, and
grace caught me in places I had never conceived. I realized new things about God once again. I
was able to see Gods love transmitted through an uppity, smug, and racist old woman, just like
the women I grew up around. I think perhaps that they are even scarier than the witches, goblins
and trolls. So begins my journey to go deeper and further to explore the importance of fiction,
fantasy, and what still needs to be uncovered through these two authors. I hope my journey
spreads new light on this subject.

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The heart of Man is not compound of lies,

but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.
Tolkien,Mythopoeia (Duriez 74)

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Lions, Witches, and Proper Southern White Racist WomenOh My!

How the Puzzling and the Repellent in Literature Can Make a Large Impact
In the Christian Life
A Study of Flannery OConnor and C.S. Lewis

If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from
those elements in it which seems puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling
or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know (Lewis,
Weight of Glory 365).

In this excerpt from his essay Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis directly confronts
the issue that we are not all-knowing beings and that we fear or dislike the ugly or
confusing elements which occur in day-to-day life. Instead of confronting these
repellent issues or even making an attempt to understand them, we simply avert our
eyeswe look away. However in this particular statement, Lewis goes on to say that
hidden within these ugly and confusing things is exactly what we have been looking for
what we need to know. Literature holds numerous arguments for Christians in several
areas, horror and fantastical literature especially. Fantasy lends itself to magic, nonreality, and myththe puzzling. Horror and grotesque-type fiction deal with the ugly
and uncomfortable. Most Christians find these areas difficult to approach. Is Harry
Potter really trying to teach our children how to do witchcraft? Is witchcraft, even
fantastical witchcraft, something we wish to expose ourselves to? Can talking animals or

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Pagan mythology genuinely teach us anything? What about stories involving murder,
racism, poverty, and hate? Is that something we really need to read about? Can we
actually find anything worth knowing in any of this? I say yes. Because truth is not
subjective, it is very objective because it is truth and our religion being truth itself; then
we must realize that we do not know everything. We must get past our fears, ideologies,
and the strange narcissistic misconceptions that we indeed have everything figured out.
Only then can we find these specific, very important new insights through literature.
Looking from Lewis and OConnors perspectives on fiction, through the ugly or the
puzzling, we might see things that we never thought of or took the time to notice before.
Arguments concerning literature have been culminating since Plato and Aristotle.
Plato argued that fiction or poetry was just a copy of a copy and worried that reading
and watching such poetry would take significance and power away from the deity. In
research for this paper, I found an assortment of very similar, new arguments concerning
fantasy as well as other genres of literature. Some debates grasp the sola scriptura
argument; arguing that scripture is the only source needed to understand life and God.
One author argues that [d]espite his pious words about Christ being the true word of
God, Lewis rejected the Biblical view of both Christ and the Bible in his work teaching
doctrines contrary to scripture, which inevitably, according to the author, denies Lewis
the right to enter heaven (Robbins 7). Another author, J. Beard, writes that reading
fantasy is harmful and dangerous. Beard describes fantasy as non-truth, or lies. He
disputes that in this engagement with fantasy, one is in complete denial of God, what He
says, and the Truth of His Word, and to take it one step further, Beard argues that [b]y
its very nature, [reading] fantasy removes the person from the Truth (reality) and moves

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them into a realm away from God (5). He goes on to say that fantasy puts the very core
of ones Christianity in danger and that any true Christian would see Fantasy as an
absolute collection of lies and wickedness (6). Lewis and OConnor write stories that
are allegorical and parable-like. Beard contends that the claim that the allegories and
parables which Jesus used cannot parallel the use of fiction and fantasy to convey
religious ideals (5). However, Charles T. Rubin strongly disagrees and writes that
OConnors stories are indeed primarily complex, spiritual parables (215). He
articulates that not seeing the spiritual aspects or parable-like parallel in these stories may
reduce the dramas to mere accident or to the idiosyncrasy of simply writing what one
knows he also says that making this error loses the dynamic of the story making it easy
to dismiss the stories as merely grotesque, as caricatures without any connection to the
world beyond Southern landscapes and accents (215). How can we dismiss such literary
experiences when they have so much to teach and offer?
Ideas of grace and conviction run strongly throughout stories written by Flannery
OConnor and C.S. Lewis, both Christian authors. While OConnor exposes the ugly, and
shows grace in very wicked places, Lewis takes the reader on fantastical journeys to seek
out truth and grace amidst the many different faces of spirituality and philosophy. Both
authors do have an ulterior motive: they hope that through their work, the readers eyes
will be opened. Perhaps through the two perspectives, exposed ugliness will lead to an
ultimate beauty so that the journey may lead us back to the beginning. Without
imaginative literature and literary experiences we cannot see God the way we might need
to. Fantasy and fiction provide new and enlightening ways to see and understand the
more spiritual aspects of ordinary life.

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Flannery OConnor has awakened my spiritual eyes in the most remarkable way.
Her work is addictive: I find myself enthralled with it. The more I read, the more I want
to read. It is like fresh water to my spirit and I find myself almost intoxicated by her
revealing of Gods grace and love to people who really do not deserve itpeople like me.
Flannery OConnor is subtle, but shocking. OConnor comes face to face with the
repellent. She brings the reader into the lives of everyday people and shows him the
ugliness that goes unnoticedthe ugliness we all carry. She shocks her reader with the
grace and humility of God, and she forces him to look deeper to see where the evil really
lies. OConnors work is based on several very important issues. While OConnor does
not write with a hidden Catholic agenda, she is primarily interested in the state of man
and his ignorance of God and evil, writing from human reality. Her influence and
perspective comes from ideas such as Personalism, Christian Skepticism, Christian
Realism, and grace. OConnor conveys Gods humility, the monster at the side of the
road, known as sin, and Gods grace lucidly throughout her work.
OConnor confronts the difference between grace and charity, hoping to clarify
her use of the grotesque in her fiction in a letter to Andrew Lytle. She writes that love
suggests tenderness, whereas grace can be violent or would have to be to compete with
the kind of evil I make concrete (Kilcourse 29). She makes this violence very vivid to
the reader using murder, pain, shock, and language in her stories. OConnor contends
that there is a flaw in the modern consciousness and the only way she can reach it is with
this deliberate distortion in her work. Kilcourse writes that her sense of the grotesque
in her fiction functions ironically to awaken her protagonists and her readers to grace as
Gods loving presence and the human persons transformation in that presence (30).

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Brinkmeyer points out that this need for deliberate distortion is not destructive, but is in
fact the kind that reveals (77). This distortion through the narrative is meant to be a
guide for the reader to reach some sort of enlightenment through the storya revelation.
Brinkmeyer elaborates that through her work the readers eyes [are] burned clean so
that he can perceive Gods presence, the mysteries of human creation, and understand
ones place in the role of Gods plan (177-8). Through these various opinions a common
thread appears; this idea of cleared vision.
Lewis approaches fiction in a different way. He, a once convinced atheist, was
very much influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis was especially impacted by Tolkiens
theories Subcreation and Myth Became Fact. Duriez describes Tolkiens
subcreation as the creation of another or secondary world with such skill that it has an
inner consistency of reality, and that Tolkiens idea of [f]aery is subcreation rather
than either mimetic representation or allegorical interpretation of the beauties and terrors
of the world (191). Tolkiens very powerful poem Mythopoeia was written after a
conversation with C.S. Lewis wherein Lewis revealed to him that his belief that all myths
were just lies spoken with silvery words. Following that conversation with Tolkien,
Lewis changes his whole perception of the myth. The idea of myths, according to
Tolkien, is that We have come from God [continued Tolkien], and inevitably the myths
woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true
light, the eternal truth that is God (Pearce 37). Lewis grasped this idea from Tolkien
believing and understanding that myths are God expressing Himself through the minds
of poets, using the images of their mythopoeia to reveal fragments of His eternal truth
(38-39). With this idea taken into light, a whole new beauty develops within fiction and

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fantasy. In his essay, Myth Became Fact, Lewis reveals this deep significance of the
myth that pointing out that it takes all the things we know and restores them the rich
significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity (Duriez 137). If God can
be reflected through literature, even in splintered fragments, how can we possibly push it
In his novel, Till We Have Faces, Lewis retells the Greek myth of Cupid and
Psyche. Not only does he grasp a Pagan form of literature, the Greek myth, but uses it
to unveil the repellant and the puzzling very intricately within this beautifully woven
piece. Till We Have Faces is Oruals recording of her own story concerning her dispute
with the God of the Grey Mountain. She writes that in this telling she will accuse the
gods, especially the god who lives on the Grey Mountain telling all he has done to [her]
from the very beginning, as if [she] were making [her] complaint of him before a judge
(Lewis, Till We 3). Orual is blinded by her ugly appearance and cannot accept the
puzzling aspects of the gods, denying their existence. When Orual finally comes to terms
with the reality of the gods and their power, she becomes angry and hurt. Orual believes
that she and her sister have been wrongly judged and ill-treated by the gods. Her good
intentions have led them both only to find great misfortune and tragedy.
Orual, the eldest daughter of the king of Glome has two sisters, Redival and Istra.
Her beloved youngest half-sister Istra, whom she calls Psyche, is stunningly beautiful and
full of grace. The three royal sisters are all trained and educated under an old Greek slave
called the Fox. Orual and the Fox take it upon themselves to raise Psyche and love her
like a daughter. Redival, feeling disconnected becomes jealous and bittershe
ultimately becomes a key player in Psyches bitter-sweet fate.

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Orual does not believe in the gods of her land, and only trusts in love and
education. Because of her beauty, and her sister Redivals jealousy, Psyche is found to be
a threat to the people and their religion. The king is forced to give his daughter to be
offered up as a sacrifice to the Shadowbrute, which is later revealed to be Cupid or the
God of the Grey Mountain. Psyche goes willingly, graciously accepting her fate with the
gods, but Orual becomes sick and outragedshe cannot cope with this loss. Orual takes
Bardia, a close companion and Kings guard, on a trek to the Grey Mountain hoping to
bury the beautiful Psyche. However, they surprisingly find Psyche to be in good health
and alive. Despite Psyches insistence upon her happiness in marriage to a mysterious
god, blinded by her possessive love, Orual cannot believe her. She denies the existence
of the deity and refuses to trust her sisters judgment. Oruals disbelief, using love as a
weapon, forces her sister to fall and to suffer for it. Later, as punishment Orual must
suffer along with her sister as well. She covers her face with a veil, and despite her
success in ruling her fathers kingdom, she destroys everyone who loves her.
There are very strong references throughout this story regarding the ugly and
repellent. Oruals face is the first symbolic representation of the grotesque in this novel.
Her father relentlessly reminds her of this affliction. In one instance Orual begs her
father to let her take Psyches place as the sacrifice to Ungit the goddess of Glome. After
he violently beats Orual, he takes her gently by the wrist and leads her to a great mirror,
saying Ungit asked for the best in the land as her sons bride [] And youd give her
that (62). They look into the mirror together and she wonders if he is waiting to see if
she will weep or look away from her own image. Her face represents abuse, pain, and

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physical deformity. She accepts her fate to be ugly and allows herself to become distant
and veiled.
Another aspect of Oruals ugliness is her possessive love. She lets her own desire
to be loved overwhelm all who come near her. When she finds herself face to face with
the gods, Orual sees that she has ruined and possessed the lives of the very people she
treasured. Lady Ansit, after accusing Orual of her husband Bardias murder, points out
that the love Orual has is a love that devours. She boldly speaks directly to Orual,
Thrift, Queen Orual. Too good a sword to throw away. Faugh! Youre full fed. Gorged
with other mens lives, womens too: Bardias, mine, the Foxs, your sisters---both your
sisters (265). The Fox loses his identity in a land he does not love because he does not
want to hurt and abandon Orual. Bardia had lost his life with his children and family due
to his need to faithfully serve his Queen. Psyche loses her life and her happiness hoping
to prove her love to Orual. Not only does Orual ask Psyche to disobey her husband and
her god, but she threatens suicide and Psyches death if she does not. Stabbing herself to
prove her seriousness, she speaks, To show you Im in earnest, girl. Listen. You have
driven me to desperate courses. I give you your choice. Swear on this edge, with my
blood still wet on it, that you will this very night do as I have commanded you; or else Ill
first kill you and then myself (165). Psyche is staggered and disgusted by Oruals
selfish and appalling request. She replies, pointing out this obvious wicked and evil use
of love, You are indeed teaching me about kinds of love I did not know. It is like
looking into a deep pit. In her realization, Psyche shows her strength with this very
powerful riposte: I am not sure whether I like your kind [of love] better than hatred,
she persists saying, to make of [love] a tool, a weapon, a thing of policy and mastery, an

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instrument of torture---I begin to think I never knew you. Whatever comes after,
something that was between us dies here (165). The relationship between Orual and
Psyche is forever changed because of Oruals possessive need to control. Despite her
efforts to cover her intentions with a veil of love, Orual is ugly because she does not
love beyond her own selfish needs.
The puzzling aspects of spirituality are a very powerful theme in Till We
Have Faces. Oruals veil is puzzling. There are confusing references concerning the
gods. They are described paradoxically as devouring, terrible, beautiful, and awesome.
Another puzzling aspect is the story itself. This story is a complaint to the gods. Orual,
very openly, accuses, curses, denies, and addresses the gods. She argues that she could
not have acted any other way concerning her sister, that in fact it is the gods fault that
she acted as she did. She says, They would not tell me whether she was the bride of
god, or mad, or a brutes or villains spoil, and because they did not give her a clear sign,
though I begged for it, she says she was forced to guess. She goes on making her case,
And because I guessed wrong they punished me---whats worse, punished me through
her (249). She is not afraid to speak out and against this dreadful authority openly;
accepting any consequence. I say the gods deal very unrightly with us. For they will
neither (which would be best of all) go away and leave us to live our own short days to
ourselves, nor will they show themselves openly and tell us what they would have us do
(249). Orual, ugly as she is, causes a great unsettling for the reader. We cannot label her
as evil. We cannot label her as good. She herself is puzzling.
The spiritual realm in this novel is puzzling. Not only does Lewis use pagan
Greek-type gods, but he uses them to convey Christian ideas. This is difficult. Oruals

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spiritual struggle somewhat mirrors Lewiss own personal battle with the belief in God
and ultimately Christ. Even when presented with physical proof of the gods, Orual
continues to disbelieve. She sees Psyches heavenly palace and admits her blasphemy.
She realizes she needs forgiveness and then, she thinks if what I saw was real []
Perhaps it was not real (133). Then sadly she talks herself out of this miracle,
disregarding the whole experience. She seeks out any and all reasons to continue in her
own narcissistic disbelief; using education, physical ailments, distractions, and her own
imagination to negate her own proof.
According to Thomas Raney Watson Psyche represents Gods unconditional
agape love. Her character echoes the Bride of Christ (Watson 170). He says that she
must experience the enlargements of loveeven if not through her own design (170).
He also argues that Oruals character resembles that of the biblical character Ishmael.
Ishmael was the eldest son of Abraham, born out of distrust in God (171). Psyche on
the other hand resembles Isaac, blessed, one who signifies the New Testament of Grace
that follows after the Old Covenant of Law (171). He points out how the original
damnation of Ishmael is overturned in Lewiss version of the story. This is puzzling to
the Christian. Do we feel comfortable with the idea that those who do not deserve to be
saved, the damned, may sit next to us in paradise? We will ponder this idea further with
the character Mrs. Turpin in OConnors Revelation. Psyche tells her sister, Did I not
tell you, Maia, she said, that a day was coming when you and I would meet in my
[heavenly] house and no cloud between us? (Lewis, Till We 306). Watson points out
that Orual, though she does not seem one of the faithful in Augustinian terms, [...] she
does seem predestined to be purged of her sinfulness by God who would, in MacDonalds

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terms, have all, not just the faithful like Psyche, saved (Watson 170). The New
Testament, therefore, brings us--the wicked and unworthy--salvation through grace.
Watson says that In Lewis mature eyes the New Testament cannot exist without the
Old; spiritual love cannot exist without physical; Gift-love without Need-love; modern
books without old myths. For they all, when properly viewed, illuminate God, who is all
and gives us faces like his own (171). Orual is saved when she finally comes before the
gods, unveils her face as well as her inner ugliness, and sees truth.
This emptiness and separation from God continues as we look at Flannery
OConnors work. According to George A. Kilcourse Jr., a Catholic theologian and
author of Flannery OConnors Religious Imagination, OConnors fiction reflects her
description of the South as Christ-haunted, not Christ-centered (12) meaning that
people in the South had in some ways put Christ aside in their lives and replaced him
with a hollow and empty void. Her fiction is written for a people who no longer believe
in God or evil and see no need for any kind of saving grace. These people, like Orual,
have covered their eyes with a veil. Neil Scheurich describes this narcissism found in
OConnors characters as well as her audience as a kind of blindness, an inability to
perceive God as well as the goodness that exists in others and oneself (549). He says
that evil is when one recognizes the good but repudiates it and seeks to destroy it,
perhaps through envy (549). We see this idea of narcissism and evil conveyed through
the characters of OConnors short story, The Displaced Person.
The Displaced Person has many elements of the puzzling and the repellent
working concomitantly throughout the narrative. The story takes place in an American
rural, southern town and is set during the holocaust at some point in World War II. Not

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only is the setting a place where racism, segregation, and hate abound, but she mixes in
with that undertones of genocide and tragedy. This setting alone immediately gives the
story a horrific and uncomfortable presage. America did not want to see the horrors in
Europe and in some ways veiled themselves from the extreme massacres occurring within
its borders. It took a drastic shock of reality for the American people to feel the violence
happening across the ocean. Right away just in the setting alone, OConnor attains
immediate discomfort for her reader.
This story deals with a displaced Polish family wishing to escape the horrors of
the concentration camps in Europe. An old priest makes the arrangement for Mr. Guizac
and his family to move to America and work for Mrs. McIntyre on her farm. OConnor
was heavily influenced by the works of German theologian Romano Guardini who wrote
The Lord in 1937. Guardinis book was written during the rise of Hitler, which
fashioned a Cristology for Germans living in the Third Reich, most of whom judged that
they had little choice but to endure Hitlers tyranny (Kilcourse 108). According to
Guardini [Christian] humility begins only where greatness reverently bows before one
who is not great (Kilcourse 103). The character, Mr. Guizac is the ideal representation
of this type of humility. The problem with Guardinis humility is that it is the opposite of
what we are taughtit is both puzzling and repellent. In Western society, we are
supposed to obtain greatness, wealth, power, and fame. The poor people are not seen as
strong, hard-working people who deserve any kind of adoration or respectthey are
repellent. However, according to this idea, the poor and broken are the ones who have
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Hired hands, Mrs. Shortley and her husband, cannot accept Mr. Guizacs humility
as genuine. Mrs. Shortley is not comfortable with this displaced family. She fears this
Polish family like rats with typhoid fleas, could have carried all those murderous ways
over the water with them directly to this place (196). She even wonders [i]f they had
come from where that kind of thing was done to them, who was to say they were not the
kind that would also do it to others? (196). There are constant reminders of horrid
scenes of dead bodies and boxcars throughout the story. Mrs. Shortley cannot separate
the Guizacs from the Third Reich and sees all Europeans and their Catholicism as
backward and unreformed. Not only does she not accept Mr. Guizac because of his
ethnicity and religion, but she sees his determination and hard work as a threat to her
position and her livelihood.
Mrs. McIntyre is threatened by the humility and goodness of Mr. Guizac as well.
Mr. Guizac works diligently and honestly. He does not see any racial differences and
treats everyone with respect. His behavior makes everyone, including Mrs. McIntyre, feel
insufficient and inadequate. These types of feelings bring about guilt; which is
uncomfortable. Mrs. McIntyre begins to obsess over how to get rid of him. She
repeatedly tells the priest how it is not her fault that bad things happen in the world and
that she has no obligation to help him. She has a dream that the Guizac family moves
into her house and she is kicked out to live with the Shortleys, and of boxcars and camps
with sick children. Mrs. McIntyres voracious need for unique significance, as
Scheurich describes this kind of narcissism and her ironic self-loathing causes her to have
a lust to denigrate anything that does not embody [her] ideal (541). Later in the story,
Mrs. McIntyre, Mr. Shortley, and Sulk, watch as Mr. Guizac lay dead under the tractor.

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She wanted to get rid of him. Upon observing the mangled body, she remembers that
[o]f all things she resented about him, she resented most that he hadnt left on his own
accord (OConnor, The Collected Stories 235). This incident is very vague, but
insinuates murder. Mrs. McIntyre has not only denigrated but has destroyed what makes
her uncomfortable.
Scheurich points out that in OConnors stories the grotesque and unfit characters
fulfill the seekers spiritual needs (546). Mr. Guizac emanates Godly characteristics;
humility and goodness. The priest, with his backward religion, brings her grace. The
strange and puzzling single peacock on the farm symbolizes beauty and freedom. These
are all things that Mrs. McIntyre repeatedly rejects. Guardini says that Christ reverses
human values. The humility of God destroys the pride of revolt, because of this we are
tempted to refuse to accept a humble God (Kilcourse 106). In the end, Mrs. McIntyre
has to lose everything, including her health, breaking her pride, in order to realize that she
needs God.
C.S. Lewis labels himself as mere Christian,--a confession of humility and
incompetence concerning the world of God. In Mere Christianity, he says that his
mission in writing the book was, like OConnor, to present Christianity as a unified front
to an unbelieving world, speaking to non-Christians about the profound witness and
power of the Christian faith across the centuries (Pearce xiii). His fear was that in not
searching out and experiencing the puzzling or the repellent we become what he calls
stagnant. This stagnation changes the mere Christian into what he names the Mire
Christian. Addressing modernism, Lewis argues that [a] liberal Christianity which
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must be completely stagnant. The mere was, therefore, threatened by, and was in danger
of sinking into the mire (Pearce 160). In literature, there exist these uncomfortable and
confusing themes. C.S. Lewis says that literary work is often, to the literary, an
experience so momentous that only experiences of love, religion, or bereavement can
furnish a standard of comparison (Lewis, Experiment 514). He goes on to say that this
experience is likened to having ones eyes opened, saying that their whole consciousness
is changed in the experience (514). Similarly, Flannery OConnor quotes Conrad in her
essay The Nature and Aim of Fiction, concerning the fictioneer stating: my task which
I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make
you feelit is, before all, to make you see (OConner, Mystery 80). Like Flannery
OConnor, Lewis believed that the nonchalant, nearly profane, narcissistic ignorance of
God and the need to change or morph Christianity hoping to somehow liberate faith,
causes not only moral deficiency but also a complete sinking into this stagnant disgusting
Like Lewis, Flannery OConnor comes at us from what she calls a Christian
Orthodoxy Standpoint. This term, in her words, means the meaning of life is centered in
our Redemption by Christ and what I see in the world I see its relation to that (Kilcourse
25). The Catholic tradition believes in something called Original Sin, which is
described as a [U]niversal human condition of being deprived of the capacity to choose
the authentic good (Kilcourse 124). We make choices according to our own desires
rather than what may truly be good for us. We may choose what is easier rather than
what is right. Kilcourse says that Concupiscence (a result of original sin) is the
orientation or inclination of the lower human facilities toward some created good without

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respect for the higher facilities (Kilcourse 125). This is where the human builds up a
pride in his own capabilities and ideas. This pride takes many faces, especially in the
characters OConnor presents--faces such as betrayal, lies, vanity, or possessiveness. She
marks pride as the underlying problem of humanitythe cornerstone of all sin and hate.
Few people see pride as a bad thing. OConnor feels that the writer has to make
corruption believable before he can make the grace meaningful (Kilcourse 28). These
people, who suffer from pride, must realize that they suffer. Then, they must realize that
they need to be saved and that they can be saved. The kicker is that they must also
realize all of this and comprehend the fact that they do not deserve to be. OConnor
argues that Our age not only does not have a sharp eye for the almost imperceptible
intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of violences which
precede and follow them (Kilcourse 106). The shock in OConnors stories grabs the
characters attention. This shock also grabs readers the attention as well. Humans
naturally resist grace because it causes change and change is usually painful. The shock
forces them to see and understand evil. It is at this point whether the character and the
reader choose to accept or reject the grace presented.
Many of OConnors essays concern her role as a Catholic novelist and other
aspects of writing with this worldview prove her determination to offer the idea of God
and his amazing gift of grace to her characters as well as to her readers. However, she
plainly states that she does not write primarily [as] a missionary activity, but that her
short stories and novels [do] invariably offer the epiphany of a religious horizon
(Kilcourse 3). In her story, Revelation, the protagonist Mrs. Turpin arrives at this
epiphany. This story is set in a small medical waiting room. Mrs. Turpin, a large woman,

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sits smugly as she ponders her place in the world. She is not white trash and she is not
black, and she is very happy to openly thank the Lord for her circumstances. Mrs. Turpin
shares this room mutually with several types of people. She is surrounded by white trash
children and their mother, an ugly girl, and a nice older woman, like herself.
Despite Mrs. Turpins desperate attempts to prove her Christianity to herself,
others, and God she constantly negates any kind of humility or grace with her behavior.
Mrs. Turpin is afflicted with racism and pride. She labels people according to their dress,
skin color, appearance, and class. She compares this information to her own personal
information and weighs her circumstances. Mrs. Turpin often ponders what it would be
like if she might have had to chose before God what she would be if she could not be
herself throughout the story. She is delighted and thinks to herself, He had not made her
a nigger or white-trash or ugly! He had made her herself and given her a little bit of
everything (OConnor, Revelation 497). OConnors readers and characters both live
in a world that only utters false allegiances to a God they do not believe exists. She sees
racism as a much deeper and more pernicious genus of evil, OConnor describes it as
demonry in the aira radical bitterness (Wood 1). This genus of evil works, in a
gradual and subtle way, all along causing great harm and destruction.
Mary Grace is the ultimate description of ugly. She is fat, she scowls, she is
college educated, and [t]he poor girls face [is] blue with acne (OConnor, Revelation
490). Ironically, Mary Grace is the only one able to open the eyes of the deluded Mrs.
Turpin. Mary Grace becomes so disgusted with Mrs. Turpins racist remarks that she
violently throws her textbook at Mrs. Turpins head and then tells her, Go back to hell

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where you came from, you old wart hog (500). Mrs. Turpin has been shockingly
awakened by a grotesque girl.
Mrs. Turpin is confused. She does not understand why God would speak to her in
such a way. Puzzled by this unlikely event, Mrs. Turpin questions God, Why me? []
Its no trash around here, black or white, that I havent given to. And break my back to
the bone every day working. And do for the church (507). In a vision Mrs. Turpin
comes to her revelation, or epiphany: She sees the blacks, the whites, and the trash all
climbing the stairs of heaven together and the Biblical concept the first shall be last is
revealed to her. OConnor gives us hope and redemption, Kilcourse believes, by ending
her stories in some sort of glad moment of grace or revelation; disclosing the horror of
sin but also overcoming the horror with hope (Kilcourse 253). We have hope for Mrs.
Turpin because she has realized that all are saved by grace who ask for it. A strange
mystery of God is revealed through Mary Grace. Vigen Guroian argues that OConnors
protagonists, like Mrs. Turpin, inveterately resist grace, until grace moves them to
embrace the mystery of their existence within a revelation of divine meaning (50). The
reader can now understand through Mrs. Turpins own ugliness that in Gods eyes there is
no hierarchy, there is just grace.
Through puzzling and uncomfortable ways, authors of good fiction subtly
uncover truths and convictions that dwell within the every day good, well-dressed, happy
people hiding sin in their own personal corners, hoping that the readers eyes will be
opened and he will see some sort of truth through works of fiction. Theologians portray
OConnor as a modern doctor of the church. C.S. Lewis is described as one of the
most nourishing, relevant, and effective religious thinkers of this century (Como x).

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Como asserts that Lewis would argue that the law of nature is practical reason enough,
neither demanding nor admitting of proof (Como 65). Lewis believed that something
cannot and must not be thrown out because a lack of proof, because nothing is selfevident, nothing can be proved (Como 65). He once said that To see through all
things is the same as not to see (Como 65). Like OConnors characters, if we think we
know and understand everything, then we really understand and see nothing.
Flannery OConnor strove for truth and wanted her work to be moving and real.
According to Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr., author of The Art and Vision of Flannery
OConnor, OConnor drew from her faith and challenged herself to further her
imaginative vision (Brinkmeyer 2). He goes on to say that she was extremely
determined to keep her fiction from becoming abstract and voiceless (Brinkmeyer 12).
This concern for matters of the spirit, and human qualities became a very strong
foundation in Flannery OConnors work. Her gift of seeing the real, honest life going on
around her is what gives her work such a strong and vividly loud voice. OConnor
writes in an essay entitled The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South concerning
man, grace, and Catholic fiction:
It [Good Catholic Fiction] cannot see man as determined; it cannot see
him as totally depraved. It will see him as incomplete in himself, as prone
to evil, but as redeemable when his own efforts are assisted by Grace.
And it will see this Grace as working through nature, but as entirely
transcending it, so that a door is always open to possibility and the
unexpected in the human soul. Its center of meaning will be Christ; its

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center of destruction will be the devil. No matter how this view of life
may be fleshed out, these assumptions form its skeleton (Brinkmeyer 20).
In his essay Christianity and Literature, C.S. Lewis writes concerning the
author and the reader as well. Great authors, he says, are innovators, pioneers, and
explorers. Bad authors bunch in schools and follow models, (Duriez 44). He points out
that literature is an art form and like the classic thinkers, he sees art as an imitation of life.
Lewis goes on to say that his own art is some reflection of the eternal Beauty and
Wisdom and that if it is a reflection of something deeper then it cannot be selfexpression (44) but in fact a reflection of the spiritual. Concerning the reader, Duriez
points out Lewiss argument that a good reader is concerned less with altering his or her
opinion than in entering fully into the opinions and worlds of others (69). We cannot
read expecting our opinions or ideas to be influenced or changed, but we read to see the
worlds of others. We cannot trust our own experiences, our own eyes, to fully
understand the world. In An Experiment in Criticism Lewis says that reading admits us
to experiences other than our own (Lewis, An Experiment 515). He goes on to describe
his own personal reading experience saying My own eyes are not enough for me, I will
see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough
Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough (515). Lewis was not afraid of the
puzzling or the ugly but says, In reading great literature I become a thousand men and
yet remain myself (Duriez 69). Lewis understands that as a reader, literature cannot
change him unless he wishes to be.
Life is lived every day. Sadly, even exciting, moving, and huge moments
fade away into our catalogue of events. In his essay, On Stories, Lewis says this: the

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idea of adventure fades when the day-to-day details begin to happen (Lewis, On Stories
511). He says that art takes us beyond what we can expect in life, and do what life
cannot do (511). We dont always see everything around us and Lewis says that one of
the functions of art is to pinpoint and present the narrow and desperately practical
perspectives of real life that gets overlooked or excluded (508). Thus, the job of the
story-teller is to tell a story that makes people see what is there and always has been, right
in front of us--things we have overlooked. Lewis describes the purpose, or just really the
natural effect, of the story, as what he calls paradoxical; is that fantasy strengthens our
relish for real life, and that this excursion into the preposterous sends us back with
renewed pleasure to the actual (508). Literature gives the reader a new breath.
There is an old story once told by St. Cyril of Jerusalem which OConnor
uses to describe all literature. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem wrote about a dragon that sits on
the side of the road waiting for those who pass by. People are warned to watch for him or
else they would be devoured (Brinkmeyer 39). We do not see the dragon unless we look
for him. Kilcourse points out that OConnors stories are hard but they are hard because
there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian Realism (Kilcourse 94). She
takes horrible, scary and uncomfortable things and throws them in our faces. The
amazing part is that what we might think are the horrible and scary things are usually just
the opposite. She once said of her work, I see these stories described as horror stories. I
am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror (Kilcourse
94). To her, the real horrors are not murder, violence, or social class disruption. The real
horrors, the dragon, are self-righteousness, racism, pride, and hatred. The dragon
represents evil of any sort. Mrs. Turpins dragon is made from her own racism and pride,

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but she confuses it with the ugly girl. Oruals dragon is the gods themselves, but in
reality it is her own need to control life. Whether or not the passer-by becomes consumed
with pride, jealousy, hate or that of others is the story. OConnor says that no matter
what form he [the dragon] takes, great fiction describes encounters with this monster and
proves disturbing to the reader (39). The disturbing part is when the dragon is the
person that is walking byself-destruction. It is always easier for the bad guy to be
someone else. Great stories consist of whether the characters move freely past the dragon
or end up terribly in his clutches.
OConnor points out that God can speak in any form he desires. She argues that
God can make any indifferent thing, as well as evil itself, an instrument for good; but I
submit that to do this is the business of God and not of any human being (OConnor,
Catholic Novelists 174). According to childrens fantasy author Karen Hancock, the
fantasy genre illustrates important spiritual truths. Like OConnor, she argues that even
secular fantasies do so despite their authors intention (Hancock 1). She feels this way
because of the particular outlines and themes found in most fantastical fiction.
Hancock points out that in most fantasy there is always a hero. This hero is
illustrative of Christ and usually has qualities reflecting the character of Christ. The
heros success also, always exacts a price (2). This hero usually comes from menial
unknown parentage, and sometimes finds out later that he is perhaps a sort of kings son.
There is always a great battle raging, and the hero is called to fight usually equipped with
some unique ability required to win this battle. In the end the hero is triumphant and
delivers the realm making justice prevail (Hancock 2). Hancock believes that fantasy
makes us think of God giving us new ways in which to relate to him. She also declares

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that with her God given imagination, fantasy provides her with ways of looking at
Spiritual truths from angles [she] might not have considered before (2).
To take a very controversial story, like the Potter series, and look at it from this
perspective may prove to be very insightful. The first book, Harry Potter and the
Sorcerers Stone, begins the story of the sad, orphaned life of Harry Potter. Harry lives
with his aunt and uncle in England. He is forced to live under the stairsdisfavored and
neglected by his own family. On his birthday, he discovers new and exciting truths
concerning his parents and his identity. He finds out that he is the son of good and noble
witches. He also finds out about a dark and powerful lord, Voldemort, who killed his
parents and how he amazingly survived the attack with only a small scar. When he goes
to his new magical school he finds out that he is admired by many because of this
amazing feat. He also finds out he has a special power over the dark lord and only he can
face him. When he questions the head wizard about this Dumbledore tells him:
Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort
cannot understand, it is love. He didnt realize that love as powerful as
your mothers for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible signto
have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone,
will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell
[henchman of Voldemort], full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his
soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to
touch a person marked by something so good. (Rowling 299)
Reading something like this, one cannot miss the parallel of Christs love for us. Yes,
Harry Potter is messy, small, and unlikely. He comes from nothingin a sense he is the

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grotesque. The use of wizardry and magic, talking portraits and ghosts to convey truth
makes this story puzzling. But this specific passage about love undeniably parallels and
reminds us that the power of Christs love is stronger than anything that can come against
it. When Harry touches Quirrell, the man writhes in pain. Harry cannot understand the
power he has over him. Quirrell represents the evil works of Voldemort. Voldemort,
representing evil itself, uses Quirrells body as an instrument to destroy Harry, just like
Satan uses our own pride as an instrument for our own destruction. But, because of the
love Harry has inside of him, he is marked and given protection, forever. Because of
Christs love residing in us, we are also marked and eternally saved.
Hancock, like OConnor, looks at evil from a different perspective. She feels that
the devil, in our everyday lives full of circumstances and business, has deceived the
whole world, and because he is like a lion seeking someone to devour, he comes as the
master counterfeiter, disguised as an angel of light, teaching righteousness to all (1).
In doing so, Hancock says that he keeps us ignorant of his schemes, delighting in using
the most mundane details of a believers life to bring him down (1). So she sees the
devil not working hard in the obvious evil, but in the subtle evil. She sees the devil
working his evil through things like self-righteousness, mundane business, or just
forgetting the real truth. She feels that fiction and especially fantasy helps us to
overcome this evil by recognizing it in the literature. To quote her exact feelings
concerning fantasy: With echoes of the Saviors life and character, stories that remind
me of who I am and why I am here, and themes that provoke thoughts of Gods
sovereignty, justice and lovewhy would I not love to read Fantasy? (2). The author

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holds in his hands the tools needed to help the veiled and complacently smug to better
understand life.
OConnor argues that a bad novel is a novel that is written from some sort
of moral obligation hoping that some kind of innate theological background will shine
through. This sorry novel happens when the writer thinks that the eyes of the Church
or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, he
feels the need to apologize for the ways of God, or man, or to tidy up reality, which in
her eyes is to certainly succumb to the sin of pride (OConnor, Christian Novelist
178). OConnors opinion of this kind of literature is very interesting. She says that
when Catholic writers close their own eyes to see only by the Churchs, the result is
another addition to the large body of pious trash for which we have so long been
famous (Brinkmeyer 22). She argues that religious writers, or for that matter any
religious readers as well, never test any sort of reality outside of their own church-life.
They never see what is really happening outside of their own little comfort areas, causing
them to become smug and complacent (22). Some Christians wish to close themselves
up in a safe little Godly world far away from the evils outsidethe puzzling and the
repellent. They do not want to see anything outside of what is understood to be good.
Because of this deliberate exclusion one becomes complacent with the faith and life he
understands, pushing away any new experiences God has for him.
The key to writing good Catholic Fiction from Flannery OConnors point of
view is to really look at the world and write exactly what is there. Following the ideals of
Catholic philosopher, Emmanuel Mounier, OConnor argues that enrichment and growth
result not from turning inward to the self but outward to the world and others

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(Brinkmeyer 41). She argues that viewing only with the eyes of the church causes an
ignorance to a large part of humanity. This ignorance of truth and reality, looking only
within a confined space, cannot possibly reveal the true, deeper mysteries in life. Ruby
Turpin lives within her own version of reality. It takes a shocking revelation for her to
see Gods truth. According to Brinkmeyer, OConnor makes it clear that to engage
literature was . . . to reach understanding in Mouniers sense; The self is decentered and
then later recentered with a fuller conception of its diversity (43). In OConnors
fiction, the narrator, her characters, and her audience undergo a complex yet dynamic
process of assimilation (43) in order to convey a new understanding and allowing new
realms of growth. All of this is brought about with the underlying narrative
consciousness, Catholicism being the central force, and the constant imaginative vision
under assessment and challenge (43). With this central force behind her, Flannery
OConnor sees the world from a specific point of view. She writes what she sees and
points out what is wrong in a vivid and shocking way.
Lewis also writes hoping his readers will see and experience a new, richer world
than they could imagine. In his essay, Rehabilitations, Lewis says that for him, reason
is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning (Duriez 129).
According to Duriez, Lewis is concerned with capturing the minds of ordinary people
and tak[ing] them into a richer world of thought and experienceindeed, into a world
unimaginable in its depths and splendor (Duriez 7). Using folktales, fairy tales, and
myths as a vehicle for theological meanings, recognizing the natural symmetry between
story and theology, (Duriez 7) Lewis accomplishes this feat. The Chronicles of Narnia
is a deep and moving story that reflects Biblical history. It captures creation, sin, evil, a

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dying God, atonement, grace, and resurrection. In his book, The Pilgrims Regress, Lewis
chose to use allegory and symbolism to parallel his own personal life and views of
philosophy. He addresses Romanticism, the Enlightenment, Modernism, the Catholic
Church, along with his own Atheism through allegory and symbolism. He says in a letter
that any amount of theology can be smuggled into peoples minds under cover of
romance without their knowing it (Como 78). According to Duriez, The rich variety of
C.S. Lewiss writings is part of an integrated whole. He is able to combine reasoning and
imagination in a unified and bright vision of reality and of the God who made a gift of the
reality we inhabit (Duriez 7). Within the vision God has bestowed upon C.S. Lewis, we
can make out a splintered glimpse of the workings of His spirit.
Christian Skepticism is an idea in which Flannery OConnor believes can make
all the difference for the Christian approaching literature. This term seems to be
contradictoryor even heretical. As Christians, we are taught not to question Godjust
follow the rules. However, Christian Skepticism looks at what one believes, analyzes it,
and pinpoints it. The Christian Skeptic then takes on any new ideas, thoughts, and
positions, perhaps even ones contrary to her own personal beliefs, and tests them
according to the foundation of her convictions. The Christian Skeptic must read as much
and widely as possible, learning all that he can take in, but in doing so must always
remain skeptical (Brinkmeyer 24). This is a very huge step for the complacent Christian.
He must see things that might make him feel uncomfortable or even angry, and only then
can his eyes be opened to the works of God around him, even in the most unlikely of
places. This skepticism gives the believer a chance to admit that she does not know
everything and can admit that she may be wrong, which is an amazing step of humility.

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Skepticism allows the believer to strengthen beliefs she may already have, when
tested. In a letter to Alfred Corn, OConnor writes concerning Christian Skepticism,
[skepticism] will keep you freenot free to do anything you please but free to be formed
by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects around you (Brinkmeyer
24). OConnor argues that the only way to enrich her faith in God is to constantly
question it, assess what she believes, and forever challenge it. When Christian believers
live only by the beliefs passed down to them and not through personal experience with
God, they again become, smug and complacent. Brinkmeyer points out that
OConnors take on Christian Skepticism is that ones faith must be continually probing
and searching out other perspectives of realityand in turn being pressured and
challenged by theserather than retreating from and ignoring them(Brinkmeyer 24).
This idea makes one realize that to become comfortable in his faith system, is to become
complacent and mired.
In her fiction, OConnor sets out to change the views of many. Kilcourse says
that her eschatological vision serves both to redeem and dismantle the hopelessness of
our time (Kilcourse 253). OConnor gives this hope and redemption, Kilcourse
believes, by ending her stories with this glad moment of grace or revelation;
disclosing the horror of sin but also overcoming the horror with hope (Kilcourse 253).
We have hope for Mrs. Turpin because she has realized that all are saved by grace who
ask for it. Grace is forgiveness or acceptance of one that does not deserve it, one of the
most complicated aspects of Christianity. It is puzzling and sometimes very repellant.
C.S. Lewis, according to Joseph Pearce, is gifted in describing the transformative effects
of grace (Pearce xviii). He says that Lewis understands grace as a mysterious force

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that works not merely inside the body but by means of the body, as the life of a flower
works its way by means of the stem to generate its blossom (Pearce xx). Grace is
mysterious because it something that we cannot earn or deserve. According to Kilcourse,
grace waits to be accepted or rejected, and that the puzzling irony is when the devil is
the instrument of grace (Kilcourse 29). What makes it frustrating is that it is also
something that others can get without earning or deserving itother people like
murderers, lower classes, politicians, and racists.
C.S. Lewis and Flannery OConnor both looked to literature to better understand
their own belief systems. Flannery OConnor searched out philosophers and Catholic
theologians, influenced by many including Emmanuel Mounier, and Romano Guardini.
Lewis, born Anglican turned atheist, turned monotheist, turned Anglican again, relied
deeply upon literature to find his way to truth and ultimately Christ. He dug through
Dante, Sophocles, Homer, G.K. Chesterson, H.G. Wells, Coleridge, Coventry Patmore,
MacDonald, and many others. Some he agreed with, some he found enlightening, and
others, like Wells he found to be so absolutely far from truth. However, in the end each
one proved inspirational to his own work in some form or another. Lewis says in his
essay, An Experiment in Criticism, But in reading great literature I become a thousand
men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad of
eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in
knowing, I transcend myself, and am never more myself than when I do (Lewis,
Experiment 515). Lewis has no fear that he will lose himself or his beliefs in reading
literature and fantasy, but understands that the literary adventure is enriching, and that it
actually allows more clarity of reality through the experience. Obviously, engaging

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literature helped to enrich and deepen the lives and beliefs of these authors, philosophers,
and theologians; Lewis and OConnor.
Perhaps, in weighing the dangers of stepping outside of our safety nets, we can
see with new eyes what God has for us. Duriez insists that [we] have to step into a
larger world to appreciate and to be enriched by his writing, reasoning, and imagination.
As adult readers and perhaps pupils ourselves of Lewis, we have to do an equivalent of
stepping through a magical wardrobe (Duriez 8). Taking from the spiritual realm he
understood, Lewis made his own subcreated worlds richly enclosed within myth. He
says in his essay, On Stories, that To construct plausible and moving other worlds
you must draw on the only real other world we know, that of the spirit (Lewis, On
Stories 506). Como writes that [t]his mix of elementsmystical fancy, education,
thoegany, and theophanyadd up to a sacred scripture, an emblem of the Scriptures
themselves (133). The ideas of God, his Spirit, and his grace can be woven into a
fantastic story revealing repellent and puzzling aspects bringing deeper meaning to the
mundane lives we all live. Had I not found Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I might not
have been able to see God and his power and majesty so clearly. I, myself, stepped
through the wardrobe and understand perfectly why I had to enter, through this
conversation between Lucy, Edmund, and Aslan:
Dearest, said Aslan, very gently, you and your brother will never come
back to Narnia.
Oh, Aslan!! said Edmund and Lucy both...
It isnt Narnia, you know, sobbed Lucy. Its you. We shant
meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?

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But you shall meet me, dear one, said Aslan.
Areare you there too, Sir? said Edmund.
I am, said Aslan. But there I have another name. You must
learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were
brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me
better there. (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 269)
In Narnia, I am able to comprehend the concept of God more clearly. I understand more
clearly, that things outside of my own perceptions can and do exist in the spirit world.
Through Flannery OConnors eyes I can comprehend better how everyday people have
really horrid thoughts and actions and how our own views and ideas of righteousness are
truly as rags compared to the righteousness of Christ. OConnor likens pride, and selfrighteousness to the biblical Tower of Babel, revealing human desires to circumnavigate
the need for God. These types of stories are my Narnia, and it is there where I can fear
and love an all powerful God equally. Through fantasy and imagination I am allowed to
see God and touch his face, bowing in earnest at his greatness learning to better recognize
him in the drab world of reality. Engaging these puzzling and repellent concepts in
literature, the reader can better see that He can and does exist in this world as well, just
with another name. Again, if we become like OConnors characters thinking we know
and understand everything, then we really understand and see nothing. These authors and
many others through puzzling and uncomfortable ways uncover truths and convictions
that dwell within the every-day good, well-dressed, happy people. Through literary
experiences the readers eyes will be opened and he will see truths uncovered.

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Works Cited
Beard, J. Christian Fantasy Biblical or Oxymoron? Ed. Rick Meisel. 10
March 2006 <>.
Brinkmeyer, Robert H., Jr. The Art and Vision of Flannery OConnor. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State UP, 1989.
Como, James. Branches to Heaven: The Geniuses of C.S. Lewis. Dallas: Spence
Publishing Company, 1998.
Duriez, Colin. The C.S. Lewis Encyclopedia. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000.
Guroian, Vigen. The Iconographic Fiction and Christian Humanism of Flannery
OConnor. Intercollegiate Review 36.1,2 (2000, 2001): 46-56.
Hancock, Karen. Why I Read Fantasy. Karen Hancock. 2005. 10 March 2006
Kilcourse, Jr., George A. Flannery OConnors Religious Imagination. New York: Paulist
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Lewis, C.S. An Experiment in Criticism. The Essential C.S. Lewis. Ed. Lyle W. Dorsett.
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---. Till We Have Faces. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1984.
OConnor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners. Ed. Sally and Robert Fitzgerald. New York:
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