Was looking for something to read night before crawling into bed and spotted Dawn’s edition of Flannery O’Connor. I’d read the title story before, but that’s all I’ve ever read of O’Connor. And I didn’t remember it much, so I brought it into bed with me.
My goodness. That story is just pure meanness.
You kinda like Grandmother at first even if she is a worry wart. I mean, the two grandchildren are little twits and hey what are the chances of meeting the Misfit anyway? But then she’s all hey look at the little nigger child there on the side of the road. (Whoa! That word! And aparently I’m going to have to get used to it, reading this book.) And then and then it’s all her fault that they get off on the dirt road looking for the house that isn’t even there, and then she’s the one who scares the cat and causes the accident.
And then she’s the one who recognizes the Misfit, who then allows that it really would have been better for everyone if she hadn’t. So then there’s the awful and agonizingly drawn out marching into the woods two by two. And the Misfit’s summation of Christ’s raising of the dead:
If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but thow away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can — by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him.
No pleasure but meanness, he says.
I remembered the story a little better after I read it. I know that’s kind of “well, duh,” but I guess I mean I sorta remembered thinking about it after I read it years ago. I don’t know why but it made me think of St. Paul. I think maybe I had some sort of confusion between Diogenes and Paul. Something between Diogenes carrying the lamp looking for an honest man (a good man?) and St. Paul being blinded by the light on the way to Damascus.
Maybe some sort of confusion between Diogenes and Damascus? Or the two stories both involving some kind of light? Who knows. It doesn’t really make any sense, I guess.
What strikes me now is how unpleasant the whole story is. How mean the whole story is. And how crazy fucked up the Misfit is, but he does express a kernel of truth about Christianity in his crazy fucked up way.
If what happened in the Gospels really did happen, as we Catholics (including Flannery O’Connor) believe, then that changes everything. And logically, if it all didn’t happen, then what’s the point really?
My brother is a veteran of the Gulf War, so he’s by definition a veteran of a foreign war. But he refuses to join the VFW because they make you take an oath where you swear to, among other things, a belief in God. And he can’t do that.
I don’t think that he believes that there definitely isn’t a God, but he can’t swear that he believes that there is either. But he’s against abortion and stealing and murder and whatnot. And I wonder, where does that come from? Where does morality fit into a world without God?
I can understand as well I suppose the social contract version then, but Rob doesn’t really speak in those terms. He’s really a right and wrong, black and white kind of guy. Or like another man famously said, “I don’t do nuance.”
So back to morality. Morality without God. How does that work?