Can you please summarize Martha Stephens's critique of the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor?

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Martha Stephens's critique of Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" begins in the opening chapter of her book The Question of Flannery O'Connor, which is titled "Belief and the Tonal Dimension." In this chapter, Stephens argues that, to O'Connor, her characters represent, "even at their comic worst, the norm of modern society." Stephens finds O'Connor's tone (and her biting point of view) cruel and "repugnant."

This "norm of modern society" criticism seems inapt, as O'Connor is not describing Southern reality. Instead, O'Connor is using the literary device called Southern grotesque to shock and stun the reader through brutal irony and witty, gimlet-eyed characterizations. O'Connor's techniques are deliberately meant to disorient the reader to cause a numinous or uncanny effect. Through these efforts O'Connor is trying to demonstrate the supernatural working of grace intruding into the natural world. O'Connor uses Southern grotesque to explain from a Catholic point of...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 855 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 5, 2020
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