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O’Connor in Context. (Explanation of Literary Devices). “The Author is Dead!”: The Formalist Perspective. Formalists emphasize the form of a literary work to determine its meaning, focusing on literary elements such as plot, character, setting, diction, imagery, structure, and point of view.

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o connor in context

O’Connor in Context

(Explanation of Literary Devices)

the author is dead the formalist perspective
“The Author is Dead!”: The Formalist Perspective
  • Formalists emphasize the form of a literary work to determine its meaning, focusing on literary elements such as plot, character, setting, diction, imagery, structure, and point of view.
  • Literary works are independent systems with independent parts.
    • Formalist subordinate biographical information or historical data in their interpretations.
  • The central meaning of a work is discovered through a detailed analysis of the work’s formal elements, rather than by going outside of the work to consider other issues, whether biographical historical, psychological, social, political, or ideological.
the use of force 1553 1555 by william carlos williams
“The Use of Force” (1553-1555)By: William Carlos Williams
  • How does the story begin and end? How does the language change?
    • Contrast between opening matter-of-fact objective description and including shift of perspective and heightening of language.
  • How are the character’s inter-related? Is their a conflict between any two characters? Explain.
the use of force 1553 1555 by william carlos williams1
“The Use of Force” (1553-1555)By: William Carlos Williams
  • From what perspective is this story told? From what point of view? How might the story be different if the author had chosen a different point of view?
flannery o connor 1925 1964
Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)
  • Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925
  • Graduated from the Women’s College of Georgia in 1945
    • She earned a reputation as a cartoonist for the campus newspaper.
  • She earned an M.F.A in writing from State University of Iowa in 1947
  • She was struck with disseminated lupus at the age of 25.
flannery o connor 1925 19641
Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)
  • Because of her illness, she was forced to move back to Milledgeville, Georgia
  • She lived and published her fiction from Georgia until her death in 1964.
  • She often employs humor, irony, and paradox within a system of Christian belief in evil and redemption.
  • She is best known as a social satirist and a religious writer.
o connor groups
O’Connor Groups
  • Read pages 169-172 in your Literature book.
  • Summarize the main points of each subsection (Southern Gothic, The Catholic Dimension, and O’Connor’s Irony).
  • Write three main points for each section in the form of bullet points.
southern gothic
Southern Gothic
  • The South is the “material” (setting & characters) for her works
  • She writes within the Southern Gothic Tradition.
    • Engaging, violent, and frequently grotesque characters who are treated with colloquial (involving or using language) humor.
  • Truth was of the greatest importance.
the catholic dimension
The Catholic Dimension
  • 2 Main Influences on her writing:
    • 1) The South 2) Catholicism
      • Wrote concerning universal themes
  • Meaning of Life centered upon redemption by Christ
  • Not just a religious writer; her style of storytelling made her writing appealing to non-Christians
o connor s irony
O’Connor’s Irony
  • A comic protagonist indulges in fantasies of moral or social superiority or has a false sense of the certainty of things.
  • An ironic and traumatic encounter with other characters forces the protagonist towards the realization that the universe is incomprehensible and terrifying.
  • Though her life was brief and plagued by illness, O’Connor’s talents were acclaimed during her lifetime.
what is epiphany
What is epiphany?
  • A character’s sudden insight, which forms the climax of the story. (It is often labeled as a plot device)
psat prep

Before Karen Chin’s research, scientists assumed that the value of evidence preserved in the fossils called coprolites was too ______ to warrant the effort of _______.

Unpredictable… transformation

Superlative… examination

Conventional… eradication

Relevant… synthesis

Dubious… analysis

psat prep1

Greta praised the novel for its _______, claiming it depicted reality so vividly that it seemed more like fact than fiction.






good country people pgs 172 185
“Good Country People” (pgs. 172-185)
  • Who are the primary characters?
  • What perspective and point-of-view are used?
  • What is the conflict throughout the short story?
good country people experience questions
“Good Country People”Experience Questions
  • What was your initial response to the story’s title? Did your impression of “good country people” change as you read it? Why or why not?
  • How did you respond to Hulga’s loss of her artificial leg? Why?
good country people interpretation questions
“Good Country People”Interpretation Questions
  • What is the relationship between Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell? To what extent are their names significant? What does the name change from Joy to Hulga suggest about Mrs. Hopewell’s daughter?
good country people interpretation questions1
“Good Country People”Interpretation Questions
  • What kinds of observations about life and people do Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell make? How do the two women see themselves in relation to other people?
  • What does Hulga learn about herself and about other people through her encounter with the Bible salesman?
good country people evaluation questions
“Good Country People”Evaluation Questions
  • Which, if any, of the characters does O’Connor seem to admire, and whom does she satirize?
  • What religious values are evident in the story? What does O’Connor suggest about these values?
paragraph structure
Paragraph Structure
  • A paragraph’s construction be similar to that of a whole essay.
    • At its core a paragraph is a mini-essay.
  • Our main focus when creating a paragraph is making a claim or making an argument about our specific topic.
  • In addition, we need to make sure that each paragraph contains only one idea.
paragraph structure1
A paragraph should follow this structure outlined:

Sentence 1: Topic Sentence (Argument/ claim)

Sentence 2: Evidence to prove claim

Sentence 3&4: Explanation of evidence

Sentence 5: Concluding sentence

Paragraph Structure
1 the topic sentence
1. The Topic Sentence
  • A topic sentence should be a more specific version of your thesis statement.
  • It should make a claim that the paragraph will prove.
  • A strong topic sentence will contain:
    • Limited Subject: Must be specific enough to prove in one paragraph, yet significant enough to warrant proving.
    • Definite Attitude: Your feeling or impression that one has and wants to communicate or your argument concerning the subject
    • Specific direction: Explicit or implicit method of development to prove your attitude on the limited subject
1 the topic sentence1
1. The Topic Sentence

Identify the 3 criteria of these possible topic sentences.

My best friend has a subtle sense of humor.

Listening to records relaxes me.

Participating in the school musical consumes most of one’s after-school time.

1 the topic sentence2
1. The Topic Sentence

Complete these topic sentences by supplying a definite attitude in the form of an attitude word or phrase.

Travelling by bus requires…

Patience/ bravery.

The American teenager of today needs…

Living with the divorce of one’s parents is…

Working everyday after school can be…

1 the topic sentence3
1. The Topic Sentence

Complete the following topic sentences by supplying a limited subject.

____________ is an example of a life of dedicated service.

____________ was one of my most adventurous experiences.

____________ indicates the value of true friendship.

____________ makes me extremely nervous.

2 evidence
2. Evidence
  • Evidence can be any specific instance where the claim is demonstrated.
  • Evidence can be, but is not limited to:
    • Direct citations from a text
    • Paraphrase of a text or critic
    • Statistics
    • Small scene summary
3 4 explanation of evidence
3&4. Explanation of Evidence
  • This portion of your paragraph should clearly express HOW the evidence proves your claim.
  • Rule of thumb: For every sentence/line of evidence, you need twice as much explanation concerning how the evidence proves the claim.
5 concluding sentence
5. Concluding Sentence
  • Similar to the credits rolling after a movie, closing sentence should tell the reader that the paragraph is completed.
  • A strong topic sentence will contain:
    • Repeats subject
    • Repeats attitude
    • Gives completeness
    • Uses specific and colorful language
5 concluding sentence1
5. Concluding Sentence

Identify the 4 characteristics within the following examples of concluding sentences.

Since that accident, Sean has been a more cautious person.

Having completed the science project, Gail was able to breath a sigh of relief.

The impact of the automobile has clearly been revealed to our 20th century society.

5 concluding sentence2
5. Concluding Sentence

Try creating concluding sentences for the topic sentences we recently just created in our last activity.

good country people final discussion question
“Good Country People”Final Discussion Question
  • What do you think of O’Connor’s satire of the characters in “Good Country People”? Is her satirical treatment of these characters justified? To what extent is a writer justified in using satire as an artistic weapon?
structure of the essay
Structure of the Essay
  • The essay is intended to work through the author’s thoughts on a subject to come to a conclusion on the topic.
  • The structure we will use is meant to best organize our thoughts logically.
  • No matter how long or short your essay/ paper becomes, it should maintain this basic structure.
structure of the essay 1
Structure of the Essay (1)

Introductory Hook

Thesis Statement

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Restatement of Thesis

Bit of wit or area of further inquiry

the thesis statement
The Thesis Statement
  • A Thesis Statement should contain:
    • Limited Subject: Proper specificity for intended length of work
    • Definite Attitude: Arguable position on subject
    • Points of Development: Intended progression to validate claim
the thesis statement1
The Thesis Statement

Analyze the following thesis statements to determine the method or methods of development.

Just as the bud blossoms into the flower, the character of Henry Fleming in Red Badge of Courage develops and matures to the extent that he becomes a silent hero.

Student writing would be improved if more attention were paid to prewriting.

the thesis statement2
The Thesis Statement

Analyze the following thesis statements to determine the method or methods of development.

In Great Expectations, Pip grows from childhood to adulthood following the same stages we all do.

The liberal and conservative politicians are both needed for the development of a well-rounded political philosophy.

structure of the essay 2
Structure of the Essay (2)


Thesis Statement

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Restatement of Thesis

Bit of wit or area of further inquiry

introductory hooks
Introductory Hooks

Historical review


Surprising statement

Famous person



1 historical review
1. Historical review

Some topics are better understood if a brief historical review of the topic is presented to lead into the discussion of the moment.

Such topics might include "a biographical sketch of a war hero," "an upcoming execution of a convicted criminal," or "drugs and the younger generation."

Obviously there are many, many more topics that could be introduced by reviewing the history of the topic before the writer gets down to the actual focus of his paper. It is important that the historical review be brief so that it does not take over the paper.

example 1
Example 1

“The victory brought pure elation and joy. It was May 1954, just days after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. At NAACP headquarters in New York the mood was euphoric. Telegrams of congratulations poured in from around the world; reporters and well-wishers crowded the halls.”

[After reaching back forty years ago to bring up the landmark Supreme Court decision that started school desegregation, this article discusses school segregation in the present time.]

2 anecdotal
2. Anecdotal

An anecdote is a little story. Everyone loves to listen to stories. Begin a paper by relating a small story that leads into the topic of your paper. Your story should be a small episode, not a full blown story with characters and plot and setting. If you do it right, your story will capture the reader's interest so that he or she will continue to read your paper. One caution: be sure that your story does not take over the paper. Remember, it is an introduction, not the paper.

example 2
Example 2

“Mike Cantlon remembers coming across his first auction ten years ago while cruising the back roads of Wisconsin. He parked his car and wandered into the crowd, toward the auctioneer's singsong chant and wafting smell of barbecued sandwiches. Hours later, Cantlon emerged lugging a $22 beam drill-for constructing post-and-beam barns—and a passion for auctions that has clung like a cocklebur on an old saddle blanket. "It's an addiction," says Cantlon, a financial planner and one of the growing number of auction fanatics for whom Saturdays will never be the same.”

[This is an anecdote, a little story about one man and his first auction, that is the lead to an article about auctions. In this article the author explains what auctions are, how to spot bargains in auctions, what to protect yourself from at auctions, and other facts about auctions and the people who go to them.]

3 surprising statement
3. Surprising Statement

A surprising statement is a favorite introductory technique of professional writers. There are many ways a statement can surprise a reader. Sometimes the statement is surprising because it is disgusting. Sometimes it is joyful. Sometimes it is shocking. Sometimes it is surprising because of who said it. Professional writers have honed this technique to a fine edge. It is not used as much as the first two patterns, but it is used.

example 3
Example 3

“Have a minute? Good. Because that may be all it takes to save the life of a child—your child. Accidents kill nearly 8000 children under age 15 each year. And for every fatality, 42 more children are admitted to hospitals for treatment. Yet such deaths and injuries can be avoided through these easy steps parents can take right now. You don't have a minute to lose.”

[This article begins with a surprising, even shocking, statistic, 8000 children die each year from accidents. The article then lists seven easy actions a person can take to help guard a child against accidents. These range from turning down the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to putting firearms under lock and key.]

4 famous person
4. Famous Person

People like to know what celebrities say and do. Dropping the name of a famous person at the beginning of a paper usually gets the reader's attention. It may be something that person said or something he or she did that can be presented as an interest grabber. You may just mention the famous person's name to get the reader's interest. The famous person may be dead or alive. The famous person may be a good person like the Pope, or he or she may be a bad person like John Wilkes Booth. Of course, bringing up this person's name must be relevant to the topic. Even though the statement or action may not be readily relevant, a clever writer can convince the reader that it is relevant.

example 4
Example 4

“The most widely read writer in America today is not Stephen King, Michael Chrichton or John Grisham. It's Margaret Milner Richardson, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, whose name appears on the "1040 Forms and Instructions" booklet. I doubt that Margaret wrote the entire 1040 pamphlet, but the annual introductory letter, "A Note from the Commissioner," bears her signature.”

[This is the first paragraph of an article about the lady named above. The author used the names of three famous, modern American writers to get a reader's interest. Notice that the first name on his list is a name that is probably more widely known than the other two. Stephen King has been around for some time now, and everyone, from teenagers to grandparents, know his name whether they have read his books or not.]

5 declarative
5. Declarative

This technique is quite commonly used, but it must be carefully used or the writer defeats his whole purpose of using one of these patterns, to get the reader's interest. In this pattern, the writer simply states straight out what the topic of his paper is going to be about. It is the technique that most student writers use with only modest success most of the time, but good professional writers use it too.

example 5
Example 5

“In the College of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering, for example, nearly one-third of the teaching faculty may retire by the year 2004. In the College of Education, more than a third of the professors are 55 years old and older. The largest turnover for a single department is projected to be in geology. More than half of its faculty this year are in the age group that will retire at the millennium, says Ron Downey of K-State's Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. The graying of K-State's faculty is not unique. A Regents' report shows approximately 27 percent of the faculty at the six state universities will retire by the end of this decade, creating a shortage of senior faculty.”

[This is a straight forward introduction that gets right down to the topic of the aging of the faculty of Kansas State University. There are no historical reviews, no surprising statements, no anecdotes, no quotations from or about famous people. This is a discussion that leads to further discussion about the topic. The biggest difficulty about this type of introduction is that it can get boring. It is not likely to get the interest of anyone except those who are already interested in this subject. Use this pattern with caution.]

6 quotation
6. Quotation

A writer can begin their essay by using a famous quotation which relates to the topic. This quotation can be humorous or serious, yet the important part is to make sure to relate it to your topic.

example 6
Example 6

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”


What topic might this essay discuss?


Transitions indicate relations, whether within a sentence, paragraph, or paper. They illustrate "relationships" between ideas, followed by words and phrases that can connect them.


4 transitional devices that help achieve coherence:

Repetition of key words

Use of synonyms

Use of pronouns

Use of transitional words and phrases

transition examples2
Transition Examples

Addition: also, again, as well as, besides, coupled with, furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly

Consequence: accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this reason, for this purpose, hence, otherwise, so then, subsequently, therefore, thus, thereupon, wherefore

Generalizing: as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, generally speaking, ordinarily, usually

Exemplifying: chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular, markedly, namely, particularly,  including, specifically, such as

transition examples3
Transition Examples

Illustration: for example, for instance, for one thing, as an illustration, illustrated with, as an example, in this case

Emphasis: above all, chiefly, with attention to, especially, particularly, singularly

Similarity: comparatively, coupled with, correspondingly, identically, likewise, similar, moreover, together with

Exception: aside from, barring, besides, except, excepting, excluding, exclusive of, other than, outside of, save

transition examples4
Transition Examples

Restatement: in essence, in other words, namely, that is, in short, in brief, to put it differently

Contrast and Comparison: contrast, conversely, instead, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, on the contrary, rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still

structure of the essay 3
Structure of the Essay (3)


Thesis Statement

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Restatement ofThesis

Bit of wit or area of further inquiry


There are 4 essential characteristics of a good conclusion:

Restates the Thesis statement

Gives completeness

Adds no new information

Uses key words to repeat major points

restatement of thesis
Restatement of Thesis
  • After developing your argument throughout your essay, you need to begin your conclusion with a concise version of your argument.
  • You should NOT just repeat the same sentence.
  • You should NOT just use a thesaurus to alter your original thesis.

4 possible options to construct your conclusion:

Summarize composition

Stimulate thinking

Offer solution to problem

Present an opinion

sat prompt 1
SAT Prompt 1

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment.

Excerpt: To change is to risk something, making us feel insecure. Not to change is a bigger risk, though we seldom feel that way. There is no choice but to change. People, however, cannot be motivated to change from the outside. All of our motivation comes from within.

Assignment: What motivates people to change? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

analyzing the essay question
Analyzing the Essay Question

There are 3 main steps to analyzing the essay question.

Locate in the question the directional word(s) that indicate(s) what the writer is to do. UNDERLINE!

Restate/ answer the question as a thesis statement, keeping in mind the direction indicated above.

Select the method of development that meets the requirement of the essay question and thesis statement.

sat prompt 2
SAT Prompt 2
  • Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment.
  • Excerpt: Technology promises to make our lives easier, freeing up time for leisure pursuits. But the rapid pace of technological innovation and the split second processing capabilities of computers that can work virtually nonstop have made all of feel rushed. We have adopted the relentless pace of the very machines that were supposed to simplify our lives, with the result that, whether at work or play, people do not feel like their lives have changed for the better. (Karen Finucan, “Life in the Fast Lane”)
  • Assignment: Do changes that make our lives easier not necessarily make them better? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
a good man is hard to find pgs 186 196
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”(pgs. 186-196)
  • Who are the primary characters?
  • What perspective and point-of-view are used?
  • What is the conflict throughout the short story?
a good man is hard to find experience questions
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”Experience Questions
  • Did you enjoy the opening section of the story? hen did your perception of the kind of story you were reading change- if it did?
  • How did you respond to the Misfit’s behavior? To his speech?
a good man is hard to find interpretation questions
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”Interpretation Questions
  • How does O’Connor characterize the grandmother? What do we learn about her from her conversation with the Misfit? What do we learn about him? What is his favorite saying, and what sense do you make of it?
  • How do you explain the story’s title?
a good man is hard to find evaluation questions
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”Evaluation Questions
  • What religious qualities or elements emerge in this story? How, as the Misfit says, has Jesus “thrown everything off balance”?
  • In what sense could the grandmother have been a good woman if, as the Misfit says, there was “somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life”?
a good man is hard to find final discussion question
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”Final Discussion Question
  • Why do you think this has been one of the most frequently anthologized and most often written about of O’Connor’s stories? Provide examples to support your opinion.
everything that rises must converge pgs 197 207
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” (pgs. 197-207)
  • Who are the primary characters?
  • What perspective and point-of-view are used?
  • What is the conflict throughout the short story?
everything that rises must converge experience
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” (Experience)
  • What were your initial impressions of Julian and his mother? Did these impressions remain consistent or did they change?
  • To what extent does you experience with racial prejudice parallel that depicted in the story? To what extent does it differ?
everything that rises must converge interpretation
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” (Interpretation)
  • What is the significance of the name Godhigh? How does Julian’s attitude toward his ancestors and toward the Godhigh family home reflect the central conflict of the story?
  • What is the significance of Julian’s mother’s response to the black woman’s hat? What is the significance of Julian’s response to his mother’s behavior?
everything that rises must converge interpretation1
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” (Interpretation)
  • What is the meaning of the story’s concluding action and dialogue?
everything that rises must converge evaluation
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” (Evaluation)
  • What principles and beliefs guide Julian? What principles or beliefs does his mother live by?
  • Whose values, if anyone’s, does the story seem to endorse? What values are satirized?
everything that rises must converge final discussion
“Everything That Rises Must Converge” (Final Discussion)
  • Offer two different explanations for the meaning of the story’s title, “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” Why “everything”? Why “must”? In what sense might things be said to “converge”?