O’Connor’sUtilization of Literary Devices in “Revelation”
FlanneryO’Connor’s “Revelation” employs numerous literary devices toenlighten the reader, but constructs its meaning in a way that leavesreaders stumped as to its meaning. In the satirical work, O’Connor,proffers a striking disclosure to the theme of grace and purificationbut obscured in racial prejudice. In fact, O’Connor use of literarydevices such as tone, limited omniscient, humor, and characterizationallows readers to appreciate the deeper meaning of the satirical workas well as allow them to understand that falsifying one’s characterimpedes triumph. As Ruby Turpin obtains a disclosure about hermisperceived rectitude, O’Connor impersonates the enigmatic natureof the Testament by utilizing literary devices. Literary devicesallow O’Connor to reveal the difference between Ruby Turpin’sChristian outward and her prideful and judgmental inner self(Gleeson-White47).In fact, Gleeson-White asserts, “The utilization of satirical andliterary devices in Revelation allows O’Connor to reinforce thetheme of the story and appeal greatly to the readers,” (47). Inaddition, the literary devices used allow O’Connor to reveal themagnitude of opacity that challenges conventional interpretations andthe notions underlying the title of the story. Thus, it is imperativeto analyze the literary devices used in the story to comprehend thedeeper meaning of the story as well as understand the true meaning ofrevelation. In this regards, the discourse proffers an analysis onthe use of literary devices such as tone, characterization, andforeshadowing to reinforce the theme of racial prejudice, grace, andpurification.
O’Connoruses a rich, colorful, humorous, and casual tone in the story. Hershort story “Revelation” is classical of the hermeneuticalpurpose of language and literary writing. In this regards, the use ofhumorous and casual tone in the story helps to reveal theshortcomings of Mrs. Turpin especially her construction of anartificial hierarchy of social classes. In addition, O’Connor usesthis tone to illustrate the conflict that develops as the storyprogresses. Her tone is full of parables and allusions, which helpreinforce the theme of grace and purification. O’Connor uses alanguage full of southern dialogue, expressive, humorous, andcolorful language from the onset of her story. For example, O’Connoraccounts, “The doctor’s waiting room was very small, was almostfull when the Turpins entered, and Mrs. Turpin, who was very large,made it look even smaller with her presence, (1). This humorous andexpressive language continues as the story develops especially asillustrated in the exchanges of Mrs. Turpin and the “stylish woman”in the anteroom. Mrs. Turpin thinks of herself as an epitome of God’screation and uses a tone of patronization in asserting so, whichreveals O’Connor’s language as humorous and expressive. Inaddition, Gleeson-Whitecontends that the use of expressive in the story helps to reinforcethe theme of judgment and racial prejudice (46). In fact, Colessuggests that the application of internal dialogue attempts to revealthe malicious and sinful judgments of Mrs. Turpin (16). In her chatwith the “stylish woman she says, “I am sure am tired ofbuttering up niggers, but you got to love em if you want em to workfor you,” (10).Theuse of a humorous, expressive, and colorful language helps O’Connorto reveal her outlook on prejudice as well as shows how people canuse language to antagonize other people. In addition, the use thislanguage helps to portray her characters especially Mrs. Turpin in amanner to convince the reader thus, plays an imperative part toreinforce the theme of purification and racial prejudice.
Intothe bargain, O’Connor sums her story with a comprehensivecharacterization, which plays an imperative role in the developmentof the story. To quantify the characterization: “everybody,everybody,is a walking paradox.” After telling her account from the anteroom,her African-American employees straightway defend her with theirobsequiousness. They say, “She shouldn`t said nothin ugly to you…You so sweet. You the sweetest lady I know… She pretty too… Andstout… I never knowed no sweeter white lady.” (28). The workersalso threaten to kill the ugly girl after hearing how she entitlesMrs. Turpin. The attitudes of the African-American may seem honestand decent, but the progressive description of Mrs. Turnipillustrates the treatment as fabrication or simulation. Thecharacterization also helps to illustrate the employment of the themeof grace and purification as highlighted in a satirical manner. Thesimulation of the Africans as nice to Mrs. Turpin is easier to fakethan showing anger, fright, or meanness. In this regards, Hardysubmits, “O’Connor helps to show that being what one thinks isright even when wrong is widespread,” (50). The depiction of thecharacters the short story also highlights the incongruities of theirdispositions, consequently impeding their triumph. Hardy contendsthat the characters in the story cannot triumph since they make uplies, fake their feelings, and true characters, believe inthemselves, and live by a falsity (51). In fact, the utilization ofcharacterization shows that stubborn people to reveal the truthcannot triumph.
Onthe other hand, O’Connor employs a limited omniscient as her pointof view. Such a perspective means that the reader only has a pellucidunderstanding of the judgments and opinions of Mrs. Turpin. However,this viewpoint helps to validate and promote the central theme of thestory as well as develop the main character expansively. In fact, theuse of limited omniscient as a literary device helps to illustratethat Mrs. Turpin is egocentric and a self-pronounced clever clog. Inaddition, the viewpoint highlights the egotism Mrs. Turpin holds ontoimpedes her success. Through the entireness of the account, shecannot fathom the meaning of the girl in the anteroom gawking at her.O’Connor narrates, “The girl`s eyes were fixed like two drills onMrs. Turpin. This time, there was no mistaking that there wassomething urgent behind them. Girl, Mrs. Turpin exclaimed silently, Ihaven`t done a thing to you!" (16). This account shows that Mrs.Turpin is cognizant that she is the cause of the madness that thegirl shows, but she does not have a clue as to how she would havemade the girl mad and only think that the girl is mad and has noright to behave as she does. Westarp says of O’Connor’sviewpoint, “The limited omniscient used allows the reader to knowthe true character of Mrs. Turnip,” (12). Westarp suggests thatMrs. Turnip truly considers herself a good soul and no one wouldeternally have anything justifiably debauched to say about her (12).The limited omniscient employed affects the narration of the storyand helps to illustrate the obscurity that blinds Mrs. Turpin to hertrue personality. In addition, the consistency of the narration andthe lack of change in Mrs. Turnip’s character help to show howself-satisfaction and admiration condemn people’s answers andvirtues.
Coles,Robert. Flannery O`Connor`s South. University of Georgia Press, 1993.Print.
Gleeson-White,Sarah. "A Peculiarly Southern Form of Ugliness: Eudora Welty,Carson McCullers, and Flannery O`Connor." TheSouthern Literary Journal36.1 (2003): 46-57. Print.
Hardy,Donald E. NarratingKnowledge in Flannery O`Connor`s Fiction.Univ of South Carolina Press, 2003. Print.
O’Connor,Flannery. TheRevelation.New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971. Print.
Westarp,Karl-Heinz. Precision and depth in Flannery O`Connor`s short stories.Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2002. Print.