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Genre

Short Stories, General Fiction, Southern Gothic

Audience

Adult

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

1965

Themes

Mercy, Forgiveness, Compassion, Heaven, Hell, Morality, Self Righteousness

 

Reviewed by

M.S. Ocampo

Reviewed by M.S. Ocampo

“Revelation” is one of the last short stories that Flannery O’Connor wrote. It was published in 1965, one year after she died. While “A Good Man is Hard to Find” may be the most well-known story from Flannery O’Connor, I think “Revelation” is my favorite as it’s the most straightforward parable.

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The reason I call “Revelation” a parable is because it reminds me of the biblical parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Only in this story, Flannery O’Connor takes us into the mental experience of one of those people Jesus condemned, such as the Pharisees and other people so full of pride they forget how to love people. Like the Pharisees, Ruby Turpin has a very high opinion of herself and a low opinion of everyone else. This is shown as she sits with her husband in a waiting room in the doctor’s office.

The office is crowded with a lot of patients. Ruby condescends to make conversation with a stylish lady who’s sitting nearby. Mary Grace, the daughter of the stylish lady, is described as a fat eighteen or nineteen-year-old girl whose face was “blue with acne” and wore “Girl Scout shoes and heavy socks.”

The story is implied to take place during Flannery’s time in the early 1960s, as Mrs. Turpin thinks about “a colored dentist in town who had two red Lincoln’s and a swimming pool and a farm with registered whiteface cattle on it.” As far as Mrs. Turpin’s mind is concerned, though, she might as well be in the 1860s, as she has African-Americans who work on her property and refers to African-Americans as “n*****s.”

As the conversation gets more racist and politically incorrect, Mary Grace’s rage slowly builds up to a boiling point. Her mother calls her spoiled and ungrateful, the kind of person who “can never say a kind word to anyone, who never smiles, who just criticizes and complains all day long.” (Sounds like most of the college students on Tumblr). Finally, when Mrs. Turpin does her very boastful “prayer of gratitude,” she gets a textbook thrown at her face.

The next section speaks for itself:

The girl raised her head. Her gaze locked with Mrs. Turpin’s. “Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog,” she whispered. Her voice was low but clear. Her eyes burned for a moment as if she saw with pleasure that her message had struck its target.

Although Mary Grace gets sedated and taken away, her message lingers with Mrs. Turpin throughout the rest of the day. She tries to use the people around her to bolster her ego when she returns home, but to no avail. Finally, at the end of the day, she complains loudly to God, questioning Mary Grace’s words. She receives a vision of a parade of people in white entering Heaven. However, she sees that the people she looked down upon, the “white trash,” the “n*****s,” the “freaks and lunatics,” were the first in line. Meanwhile, the people who were like her, those who “always had a little of everything” walked towards the end.

“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”-Matthew 20:16

 

Best of 2023 Book Awards

Our favorite books that we reviewed in 2023. If you want Catholic literature but don’t know where to start this, (and previous award winners) is the list for you.

Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

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The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas

Would you die for a flower? Would you kill for one? Providence, romance, and danger rule in this tense, heart-warming prison romance.

Revelations Of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, read by Sr. Wendy Beckett, Edited by Donna K. Triggs

A 14th century account of visions exploring the meaning of love, and God as love.

Three Last Things or The Hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin by Corinna Turner

The last day of a convicted murderer’s life: Can he save his soul in time?

Lord of the Rings & the Eucharist by Scott L. Smith

What do trees have to do with Bread & Wine?

Shooting At Heaven’s Gate, by Kaye Park Hinckley

How does an ordinary boy become a mass murderer?

Relic of His Heart by Jane Lebak

An atheist midwife has no idea what she’s in for when she makes a deal with an angel.

Champion of the Poor: Father Joe Walijewski by Voyage Comics

Meet the priest who spread the love of God in Peru.

The City Mother By Maya Sinha

She didn’t believe in good and evil, until she became a mother…

Best Books of 2022

Our favorite book finds of the year!

Legion by William Peter Blatty

When a boy is crucified, Detective Kinderman finds himself chasing down a murderer who is already dead.

Absence by Kaye Park Hinckley

Absence will chill you with the stark reminder that human beings are not just bodies, but souls whose spiritual influence cannot be suppressed, even when the bodies have gone missing.

The Boy Who Knew (Friends in High Places: Carlo Acutis) by Corinna Turner

Faced with his death, a fifteen-year-old learns how to live through the wisdom of Blessed Carlo Acutis.

Anno Domini 2064 by Jacob Clearfield

Mark is happy serving the Party of the Golden Republic, but when he discovers God, he risks losing everything.

Best Books of 2021

2021 brought many changes but the effects these books had on us remains as stalwart as the rock of Peter.

Celtic Crossing by Len Mattano

Relic lost, and faith found.

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch by T.M. Gaouette

A foster kid learns that sometimes the scariest part of life is accepting love.

Three Reformers: Luther, Descartes, Rousseau by Jacques Maritain

Reaching back to a forgotten era of integrated Christian philosophy, Maritain retrieves concepts that could solve the dissolution of postmodern society.

August & September New Book Releases

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