Frank O'Connor Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

ph_0111207203-Oconnor_Fr.jpg Frank O’Connor Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Frank O’Connor was a prolific writer who wrote in nearly every literary genre. His published books include poems, translations of Irish poetry, plays, literary criticism, autobiographies, travel books, and essays. His two novels—The Saint and Mary Kate (1932) and Dutch Interior (1940)—are interesting complements to the many short-story collections, for which he is best known.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Frank O’Connor was a masterful short-story writer. He was a realist who closely observed his characters and their world. He was not a pitiless realist, however, but he always seemed to have great sympathy for his characters, even those who insisted on putting themselves in absurd situations. It follows that one of his major techniques was humor. There is a place for humor in nearly all of his works, including those that border on tragedy. His stories tend to deal with a domestic rather than a public world, and the characters make up what he has called a “submerged population.”

Structurally, the stories are simple. O’Connor likes to use a sudden reversal to bring about the necessary change in the plot. The plots tend to be simple and the reconciliation of the conflict is always very clear. One of the special devices he employed to give the stories some distinction is his use of a narrator. Whether the narrator is a child or an old priest, there is always a distinctive voice telling the reader the story. This voice has some of O’Connor’s special qualities: warmth, humor, sympathy, and a realistic appraisal of the circumstances.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Alexander, James D. “Frank O’Connor in The New Yorker, 1945-1967.” Eire-Ireland 30 (1995): 130-144. Examines how O’Connor changed his narrative style during the twenty years he was writing for The New Yorker—contracting the presence of a narrator to a voice and developing a double-leveled view of “experienced innocence” in his young boy stories. Argues that O’Connor created a genial persona in his stories that diverted attention from his more serious subject matter of Irish social problems.

Bordewyk, Gordon. “Quest for Meaning: The Stories of Frank O’Connor.” Illinois Quarterly 41 (Winter, 1978): 37-47. Discusses O’Connor’s concern with fundamental qualities of everyday life and his sense of wonder in the mundane in four major groups of stories of war, religion, youth, and marriage. Examines how the search for meaning changes the lives of characters in these four groups.

Davenport, Gary T. “Frank O’Connor and the Comedy of Revolution.” Eire-Ireland 8 (Summer, 1973): 108-116. Davenport analyzes some of O’Connor’s early stories on the Irish Civil War and points out the persistence of comedy even in tragic situations. He claims that O’Connor sees revolution as farcical.

Evans, Robert C., and Richard Harp, eds. Frank O’Connor: New Perspectives. West...

(The entire section is 556 words.)