Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Annarose Steinke

Committee Members

Janet J Graham, Jessica Hollander, Marshall Bruce Gentry




This thesis explores Flannery O’Connor’s Catholic imagination throughout her fiction, incorporating close readings of O’Connor’s short stories with her letters, essays, and prayer journal. The thesis also draws comparisons between O’Connor’s work and that of Graham Greene and Elizabeth Bishop to explore O’Connor’s unique perspective and style. O’Connor’s fiction flows from her Thomistic theology concerning the relationship between grace and nature, which she emphasizes throughout her writing. The first chapter presents a close reading of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair paired with O’Connor’s “Greenleaf” and Benedict XVI’s Deus Caristas Est to argue that eros is fundamentally Christian. Greene and O’Connor explore how God, the Divine Lover, desires complete intimacy with His beloved. The second chapter emphasizes O’Connor’s use of eye and vision motifs to explore a spiritual awareness of mystery in “Good Country People.” O’Connor uses the grotesque to illustrate the short-sightedness of modern nihilism and atheism. The third chapter uses O’Connor’s only explicitly Catholic story to unpack the sacramental imagination that is both temporal and transcendent. O’Connor’s bold metaphor of an intersex person and the Eucharist simultaneously simplifies and complicates the mystery of the Incarnation. The closing chapter examines the difference between the dialectical imagination at work in Bishop’s “The Moose” and O’Connor’s anagogical imagination in “Revelation” to illuminate O’Connor’s distinctly Catholic approach to fiction, one that emphasizes the inevitable convergence of the physical and spiritual realities.



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