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Revelation by flannery oconnor

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Revelation by flannery oconnor

Author Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925. She was born and raised Catholic, facts that defined her personal faith and helped shape her independent and ironic take on life. According to our textbook, "O'Connor's fiction grapples with living a spiritual life in a secular world"(318). Her novels and stories all involve the theme of religion and questions about spirituality. In fact, in many of her stories, the main character questions his or her own faith or undergoes a major revelatory change. This essay starts of asking the question: does the main character in O'Connor's short story "Revelation" undergo an actual revelation? And answers that question with a resounding "no."

At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to Mrs. Turpin, a loud, racist southern landowner. She believes that there are classes of people, and blacks, for example, are below homeowners, but above white trash. She does not, however, consider herself racist. This is a dangerous characteristic to have. She claims to treat blacks well, but she refers to them as "niggers" and clearly states that she is above them. Mrs. Turpin is grateful to be a "superior" white landowner who is above the white trash in the waiting room and the black helpers on her farm. She is repulsively guilty of pride and obsessed with status and property She believes you have to "have certain things before you can know certain things"(344).

Her "revelation" is brought on by an unattractive, yet well educated young woman in a doctor's office. Mary Grace ends up throwing a book at Mrs. Turpin because of her frustration with the woman's ignorance. After Mrs. Turpin gets knocked upside the head, she looks at Mary Grace, expecting God to talk to her, and she is told that she is a "wart hog." Mrs. Turpin, still thinking this is a message from God, is quite confused by it. She doesn't know where it came from, or its true meaning, so she searches herself for

it. She ends up, supposedly, "seeing the light" while hosing down the pigs in her pig parlor.

The first impression the reader gets of Mrs. Turpin is one of dominance. She is portrayed as "large" and "loud." She controls her husband, Claud, treating him like a child. She immediately takes over the conversation in the room and forces her opinions and thoughts onto everyone. She proceeds to judge everybody in the doctor's waiting room: pitying the girl with acne while she takes pride in the fact she "always had good skin"(341), and calling the "white trash" woman and child "worse than niggers"(341). After the reader is subjected to the different classes according to Mrs. Turpin, the reader hears an ironic lyric that Mrs. Turpin supplies. A hymn comes over the radio in the waiting room and "Mrs. Turpin, who knew it, supplied the last line mentally, 'And wonna these days I know I'll we-eara crown'"(341). This line tells the reader that Mrs. Turpin believes she is so much better than everyone else that she wants to lord over them. She "knows" someday she'll be wearing a crown, meaning she believes she has some sort of "royal blood." In ancient Egypt, the people believed that their pharaohs were divine, meaning God chose them. It seems as if Mrs. Turpin is foreshadowing the ending when she believes she is so important that God, himself, talks to her. The reader gets an ugly look at the inside of Mrs. Turpin's mind where she thinks that if Jesus said to her "you can either be a nigger or white trash...she would have wriggled and squirmed and begged and pleaded" and finally decided to be black(342). This paragraph shows how Mrs. Turpin's prejudicial and bigoted nature controls her, even her thoughts on Jesus Christ. It shows just how

racist Mrs. Turpin actually is. Even though she would "choose" to be black, she claims she would have a hard time deciding, and she would only be black if she could be just like herself, only black. This shows that she is clearly class conscious and judgmental.

The passage where she distinguishes between all the classes is one of the most important passages in the story. It clearly shows the nature of Mrs. Turpin: an ignorant, uneducated bigot who sees herself as a refined and tolerant woman. She says:

"On the bottom of the heap were most colored people, not the kind she would have been if she had been one, but most of them; then next to them-not above, just away from-were the white-trash; then above them were the homeowners, and above them the home-and-land

owners, to which she and Claud belonged. Above she and Claud were people with a lot of money and much bigger houses and much more land"(342).

If there was any doubt to the true nature of Mrs. Turpin's character, it is cleared up here. Mrs. Turpin is clearly portrayed as a bigoted, self-centered woman. The reason this is the most important passage in the story is because it shows the reader what type of woman Mrs. Turpin truly is.

The next important passage in Revelation is where Mrs. Turpin is talking to the "white trash woman" and the "pleasant lady" about the black hands on her farm. She's discussing the restructuring of the social hierarchy she's built up, meaning the fact that blacks were beginning to rise up. She says "now you can't get the niggers-because they got to be right up there with the white folks"(343). She goes on to say that that's the way things will be from now on, and they just have to face it. She takes pride in the fact that she accommodates her "niggers." She is proud that she says hello to them and brings them ice water when it's hot.

This discussion she has with these women shows the reader that she thinks she's being flexible, progressive, even charitable. When in all actuality, she calls blacks "niggers," treats them like children and still expects them to be her slaves, picking cotton for her. Mrs. Turpin thinks she is being tolerant, when in all actuality, she is just showing herself as more and more of a bigot.

At this point in the story, all we know about Mary Grace is that she has acne on her face and a constant scowl when looking at Mrs. Turpin. We are led to believe that this girl is just mean and ugly. That changes, however. Mary Grace's mother tells Mrs. Turpin that Mary Grace goes to Wellesly College, a prestigious school way up north. That's where the reader's view of Mary Grace changes. We see that Mary Grace is actually an educated young lady who is absolutely disgusted, and rightly so, by the amount ignorance coming out of Mrs. Turpin's mouth. The last straw for Mary Grace comes when Mrs. Turpin talks down to her, telling her "it never hurt anyone to smile"(347), and ...

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