Mary Flannery O’Connor: Embracing Uniqueness

Walker is a senior sociology major from Brunswick, Ga. She is an officer in the Green Ambassadors

Walker is a senior sociology major from Brunswick, Ga. She is an officer in the Green Ambassadors

By Danielle Kennedy, Staff Writer

Flannery O’Connor thinking about ideas for her next short story. Photo by

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925. She would have been 93 years old today. It’s hard to believe that O’Connor only lived to be 39. Her impact on creative writing is undeniable. According to Flannery O’, she wrote in one of her college journals at the age of 18: “I have so much to do that it scares me.”

O’Connor was devoted to her craft, making time to write daily. She was a trailblazer. A woman who didn’t shy away from shocking people and used violence in her writing. She was a master of the southern dialect and possessed a perfect timing for irony.

According to Georgia Encyclopedia, “O’Connor was a devout believer whose small but impressive body of fiction presents the soul’s struggle with what she called “the stinking mad shadow of Jesus.” She was the only child of Edward Francis O’Connor and Regina Cline. They were from two of Georgia’s oldest Catholic families.

O’Connor was also an avid reader and artist. She published “The Geranium,” which was her first short story, in 1946. She wrote 32 short stories in total.

She later published her first novel entitled “Wise Blood” in 1952 followed by: “The Violent Bear It Away” in 1960. She also published two books of short stories: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (1955) and “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” which was published posthumously in 1965. Most of her work took place in the South with characters that were morally flawed.  She is most known for her short stories.

O’Connor had a penchant for peacocks. She had dozens on her dairy farm in her later life. She always showed a love for animals. According to VQR’s article “Between the House and the Chicken Yard”: “An adoring father gave her the confidence to find her own stubborn, ironical way in life, such that her loneliness became more a matter of choice than the unavoidable lot of a pigeon-toed, only child with a receding chin and you-leave-me-alone-or-I’ll-bite-you complex.”  

Mary Flannery O’Connor lived a full life. She took chances and didn’t conform to the conventional ideals of her time. She was a brave inspiring innovator that fearlessly showed the world that a Southern woman is a formidable force to be reckoned with. She was witty with a keen sense of irony and dark humor that shattered the perceived stereotypes of the South.

We should all strive to be a little more like O’Connor. Live more of a life that is full of individuality, fearlessness, strength, and uniqueness. The world would be a boring place without people like O’Connor. She may have lived 39 short years, but she accomplished more in her lifetime than most do in 100 years. She has made a relevant impact on the literary community.

Whether you love or hate her writing we should all be inspired to take a page from Mary Flannery O’Connor’s book of life. You never know, we may be talking about you in 93 years.