Flannery O'Connor wrote Greenleaf in 1956 but didn't publish it until nine years later, in 1965, as part of her short story collection Everything That Rises Must Converge. As is typical of many of O'Connor's works, Greenleaf espouses a decidedly religious worldview as characters afflicted by obvious vice -- in this case, the proud and selfish Mrs. May -- experience divine retribution through chaos and violence. In Greenleaf, Mrs. Greenleaf prays that God "stab her [Mrs. May] in the heart," which transpires when the bull Mr. Greenleaf is trying to shoot, on Mrs. May's command, instead pierces her heart with its horn. In this epiphanous moment of violence and religious ecstasy, Mrs. May has "the look of a person whose sight has been suddenly restored but who finds the light unbearable." Arguably, the bull symbolizes Christ, offering redemption to a sinner through a moment of agony; for Mrs. May, being stabbed in the heart is a catalyst for enlightenment.