A Biographical Analysis of "Revelation" by Flannery O'Connor

Essay by greggy August 2004

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        Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia on March 25, 1925. Her Southern upbringing had a major influence on her writing, and is shown clearly in her short story Revelation. At the time of her childhood, most whites in the South were very prejudiced towards people of other races and lifestyles. The general idea was that the less fortunate were of a lesser social and personal quality, resulting in a caste-like system of social labeling and stereotyping. O'Connor's childhood provided her the characteristics that she needed for her writing. This is easily identified in her short story Revelation where the characters are defined by their physical, racial, and economical standings.

        Ruby Turpin, the main character in Revelation displays both prejudiced and racial behavior. The story starts with Mrs. Turpin and her injured husband Claud entering their doctor's waiting room. Mrs. Turpin immediately analyzes and classifies the people around her by their appearance and other physical characteristics.

She uses labels like "higher-class", "ugly", and "white-trashy" (411). When, in conversation, she refers to her black workers, she often uses the word "nigger" intra-communitivly and verbally. This manner of speaking shows the Southern lifestyle in which Flannery O'Connor was raised.

        There were other influences in this story, besides her Southern upbringing. She was inflicted with the Lupus disease, a condition that caused her to use a degree of violence and anger in her stories, making them somewhat negative. Despite her physical ailments, O'Connor remained steadfastly proud of who she was. In relation, Mrs. Turpin in "Revelation" had also a positive disposition. Though they both are far from perfect, they are similarly happy to be themselves.

        This is shown in Revelation when Ruby is listening to the Gospel song playing on the radio in the background of the doctors office, Mrs. Turpin's heart rose.