Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short-Story Month: Day 30, The River by Flannery O'Connor

"It occurred to him that he was lucky this time that they had found Mrs. Connin who would take you away for the day instead of an ordinary sitter who only sat where you lived or went to the park. You found out more when you left where you lived. He had found out already this morning that he had been made by a carpenter named Jesus Christ. Before he had thought it had been a doctor named Sladewell, a fat man with a yellow mustache who gave him shots and thought his name was Herbert, but this must have been a joke."

"North Georgia River" by Melissa,
Used under CC license
We're drawing toward the end of National Short Story Month, and have yet to feature a story by one of the best American writers, Flannery O'Connor.  

And, so, today's selection is her story "The River". "The River" follows a boy whose parents have hired a Southern fundamentalist--perhaps by mistake, as it seems--to watch him for the day.  She ends up taking the boy to a river baptism, a new experience for the boy who later returns to the river alone.  

Like nearly all of O'Connor's stories, although her own religiosity and tendency toward trying to save her readers through careful allegorical imagery and grotesque images, "The River" defies O'Connor's religious wish in the story and shows us complex characters in the strange situations that religion itself stages time and again.  Regardless of O'Connor's intentions, "The River" is an excellent story of the way humans try to control their own lives by controlling each other's and the terrible fiasco that comes from such behavior.  And the main character, "Bevel", is hilarious, too.  And he knows it.

"The Riverby
Flannery O'Connor

(link goes to a nearly full "preview" 
of the story on GoogleBooks)

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