Flannery O'Connor Essay

577 Words3 Pages
Although many people consider the plot to be the most important facet of a short story, it is in fact the characters and their development that lends the most to the story. Flannery O’Connor is an extraordinary writer and manages to introduce and develop her characters in relatively short stories. O’Connor appropriately and ironically names her characters and also creates characters that experience dynamic changes throughout her stories. Evidence of her artful character development can be found in many of her short stories. The first aspect of O’Connor’s characters is perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated. Nearly all of O’Connor’s characters are ironically named, or have names suited to their personalities. For example, Mr. Shiftlet is a shady character in The Life You Save May be Your Own. Although seemingly polite and well-raised, Mr. Shiftlet has a hidden agenda and he cunningly forces Lucynell Crater and her daughter to fall into his trap. His name is similar to the word “shifty,” which is synonymous with the words “deceitful” and “untrustworthy.” Several other examples of ironic names are found in Good Country People. Mrs. Freeman is a black woman who works for the good-natured Mrs. Hopewell. Both characters are aptly named; Mrs. Freeman’s name is ironic and Mrs. Hopewell’s name perfectly describes her personality. Mrs. Freeman is a Negro sharecropper, meaning she is basically a slave to Mrs. Hopewell’s family. As her name suggests, Mrs. Hopewell is an incredibly optimistic character and peppers her speech with phrases like “that is life!” and “nothing is perfect!” Many other examples of O’Connor’s ironic and purposeful names can be found in her other works. In addition to O’Connor’s careful naming, many of her characters are dynamic, which means they undergo permanent changes in their outlook or personality throughout the story.
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