Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As noted above, Mrs. Turpin’s thoughts are conveyed by an omniscient narrator who otherwise narrates the events of the story from the third-person point of view, picking up Mrs. Turpin’s judgments of most of the events. The reader cannot be certain whether Mary Grace, as Mrs. Turpin believes, is really fixing her eyes on Mrs. Turpin in hatred. What is important is that Mrs. Turpin thinks so, and this belief leads her to expect some sort of revelation from the girl. The girl’s name is also important (as is the title, which gives the reader the main clue to the theme of the story), combining the word “grace” with the holy name Mary, an indication of the grace that Mrs. Turpin receives in gaining a revelation that can lead to her redemption.

At the same time, the point of the story is not overly emphasized by the author. Rather, the theme arises naturally, as O’Connor presents objective details through the consciousness of Mrs. Turpin, letting the reader decipher what impact the events finally have on her.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Suggested Readings

Asals, Frederick. Flannery O’Connor: The Imagination of Extremity. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1982.

Bloom, Harold. Flannery O’Connor. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.

Cash, Jean W. Flannery O'Connor: A Life. University of Tennessee, 2002.

Shloss, Carol. Flannery O’Connor’s Dark Comedies: The Limits of Inference. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.

Walters, Dorothy. Flannery O’Connor. Boston: Twayne, 1973.