The Influences of Kafka and Oconnor

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These authors’ literary work can never be defined by a single relationship in their lives. Each story’s setting offers evidence of resentful feelings towards the authors’ state of confinement. Everything That Rises Must Converge, like most of O’Connor’s stories, is set in the South. The conflicted and often humorously grim social setting she paints is instantly recognizable as an O’Connor creation. A majority of her characters are a product of their time and place, and most of them are seen clutching desperately to the ignorance and outdated customs of the past. In fact, Julian’s mother, like “the grandmother” in A Good Man is Hard to Find, is not specifically identified or named. It is as if “the old lady” and “the grandmother” could be any mother or any grandmother in the Southern region. O’Connor depicts this reality with obvious satire and disgust in a way that indicates how she may have been personally affected by it. It is very possible that she felt, as critic Ann E. Rueman puts it, “bottled up by Southern codes of silence and Catholic respect for elders, and aggravated by dependence on her mother without hope of change in her status. . .” (537), and allowed much of this frustration to seep through her work. Kafka, by stark contrast, does not explore such a broad setting in his story, The Metamorphosis. The entire story is set in the family house, and specifically in Gregor’s own bedroom. Throughout the story, his room becomes a prison; Gregor even resorts to jailing himself underneath a couch while his sister is in the room. As an invalid in his family’s home, he becomes more and more confined to his immediate surroundings: . . . with each passing day his view of distant things grew fuzzier; the hospital across the r... ... middle of paper ... ...hat happen to them are completely inseparable from their belated revelations and awakenings. The three previously mentioned stories, all deal with societal, racial, and especially religious facets of the human experience. Along with these factors, she explores pride, conceit, and ignorance. Most of her characters are morally ambiguous - a mixture of good and bad. As writers, neither Franz Kafka nor Flannery O’Connor received sincere approval from their parents concerning their art. While this fact in no way hampered their desire or ability to create beautifully haunting work, there is evidence that it left bitter feelings. In his letter to his father, Kafka states: “you struck a better blow when you aimed at my writing, and hit, unknowingly, all that went with it. . . but my writing dealt with you, I lamented there only what I could not lament on your breast.”

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