The Humor of Flannery O'Connor

1852 Words8 Pages
Webster's online dictionary defines humor as "a quality that appeals to a sense of the ludicrous (laughable and/or ridiculous) or incongruous." Incongruity is the very essence of irony. More specifically, irony is "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected result." Flannery O'Connor's works are masterpieces in the art of literary irony, the laughable and ridiculous. The incongruous situations, ridiculous characters, and feelings of superiority that O'Connor creates make up her shocking and extremely effective, if not disturbing, humor. I say "disturbing" because O'Connor's humor, along with humor in general, most often contains the tragic. O'Connor has been quoted as saying, "The comic and the terrible…show more content…
The narrator only compounds the laughable idea that these women are up to par with the average reader--after all, O'Connor was a well educated woman, writing for the literate--when he/she notes Mrs. Hopewell's "charitable" pride of Mrs. Freeman: Mrs. Hopewell liked to tell people [...] that Mrs. Freeman was a lady and that she was never "ashamed to take her anywhere" (Diyanni 172). The reader is inclined to laugh even harder at this, a terrible irony, after having already established both ladies as simple, "good country people." Of course, most of the true irony or humor found in O'Connor's stories is not found in the immediate and obvious. If we were to consider only Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman in the context in which they are presented to us in the beginning of the story, then we would have to conclude that O'Connor is in fact making fun of the faithful. Fortunately, she is a much better writer with a much deeper intent than that; as the story develops, so does the integrity of the "simple people." This eventual increase in status is something unexpected, especially since O'Connor supplies the reader with a perfectly acceptable, intellectual character with which to relate: Joy, or more fittingly, Hulga.

In meeting Hulga, O'Connor's humor starts to get slightly more complicated. This is where she really begins to intermingle the tragic with the comic, and now her
Get Access