>Mrs. Turpin in Opportunity for Grace
In all her stories, Flannery O’Connor often uses the Southern setting where characters are given chances to attain divine forgiveness and grace. These opportunities to attain grace and forgiveness are often brought in O’Connor’s books in very strange ways. All these distinctive attributes in her writings are also presented in O’Connor’s short story, “Revelation.” Ultimately, when Mrs. Turpin’s chance to attain grace comes, it comes through a violent act. In this short story, a Southern woman named Ruby Turpin, who is known for her extreme pride, has a book literally hit her when a bizarrely-looking aggressive young woman known as Mary Grace. Just by the symbolism of her name, that is, Grace, O’Connor presents the theme of salvation and redemption.
After the assault that Mrs. Turpin suffers from Mary Grace, she slowly by slowly begins to leave her wicked ways and starts learning a lesson from God. The kind of violence that led to Mrs. Turpin’s attainment of grace is typical of O’Connor’s writings. The same violence is also evident in her other books “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” although in these two, the violent acts occur towards the conclusions, while in “Revelation” violence takes place early in the story. It is at the end of the story that Mrs. Turpin experiences “revelation” and thus, the title of the short story. This revelation and attainment of grace is very immense as she reiterates her imagination of “whole companies of white trash, clean for the first times in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes moving toward heaven and salvation” (34). In addition, the people that Mrs. Turpin had always regarded as inferiors became worthy of the love of Christ, while herself, she seemed to be hopeful that she could actually be worthy of that kind of love.
The Southern Elements in the Story
Just as in her other stories, O’Connor’s setting is in the culture and environment she understand best—the Southern culture, thus the presence of numerous southern elements in her stories including in “Revelation.” In this story, everything regarding the setting, characters, and conversations are Southern, aspects that are also highlighted in “Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition” (Polk 2008). The specific use of the Southern setting in her stories does not however make O’Connor’s stories hidebound. In fact, her stories tackle universal matters, especially the subject of sin and salvation.” In “Revelation,” the trend is the same, as details relevant to the South abound. First, the Turpins earn their living through farming, a clear indication that the story is dealing with a majorly rural area in the country.
In addition, the radio was playing gospel music and that “…the nasal chorus on the radio” (14) makes the story more probably in the South where nasal consonants occur in dialects. The southern setting of the story is evident through the wordings used in the story, particularly on two phrases that have been repeatedly used in almost every page of the story. The author also refers to other characters as “white-trashy” (4, 5, 6, 7) a phrase mainly used in the Southern setting. The story also uses a casual racism, which is implied by the use of the word “nigger” (10, 11) is also evident of the use of a Southern setting, whereby racial segregation was an accepted fact of life.
O’Connor, Flannery . Revelation: In Everything That Rises Must Converge. Washington: Dream Letters, 2014. Print.
Polk, Noel. Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008. Print.