What is a generalized theme for "Revelation"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A generalized theme for “Revelation” is the danger of assuming you are better than everyone else.

A generalized theme is the overall message for the story.  It is the reason the author wrote it.  To find the theme we must look at the events and try to figure out what they mean.  This story is about a woman (Mrs. Turpin) who considers herself better than everyone else.

Sometimes at night when she couldn't go to sleep, Mrs. Turpin would occupy herself with the question of who she would have chosen to be if she couldn't have been herself.

At the doctor’s office, Mrs. Turpin seems convinced that she could have done better in arranging the room and keeping the place up if she was in charge.  She talks to a like-minded fashionable lady about the problem with civil rights protestors.

 Soon enough, the fat girl has had it with Mrs. Turpin’s arrogance.  She throws the book at her literally and metaphorically.

"Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog," she whispered. Her voice was low but clear. Her eyes burned for a moment as if she saw with pleasure that her message had struck its target.

The insult is such a shock to Mrs. Turpin that it does not sink in at first.  She has always thought more of herself than anyone else.  Yet she thinks about it, and decides that she is wrong.  She is not going to automatically get into heaven.  She redeems herself by realizing that she is not automatically better than other people.

By providing us with a portrait of a sinfully arrogant woman who finally gets the message that she is not better than everyone else, O’Connor provides a message of human nature that is inspiring.  If someone like Mrs. Turpin can change, can’t almost anyone?

There are different interpretations of this story.  However, this interpretation is based on the ending.

In the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah.

This implies that the Mrs. Turpin did learn something from these events, and will change.