This essay explores the concept of theodicy in Flannery O’Connor’s works of fiction. O’Connor’s fiction complicates the subjects of good and evil, moving the reader through what seem to be competitions not only between good and evil, but also between actions of good and actions of evil. Characters align themselves with one force, then another, in a constantly fluctuating system, and there is no traditional pattern of Christian warfare that we would expect orthodox Catholic writing to produce. Sometimes, evil brings about the resolution of the narratives, and sometimes actions of good fail to redeem. It is only through the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that we may have a full understanding of O’Connor’s Christian vision. For O’Connor, Teilhard’s system of a dynamic eternity, which is in the process of unification, gives a greater understanding of our human reality, as it is a world where evil is used at the service of the Divine. It serves her fictional goal as well, as it allows her to rescue violence and evil from its power for despair.
Whatley, Sue, "The Thin Blue Line of Theodicy: Flannery O’Connor, Teilhard de Chardin, and Competitions between Good/Good and Evil/Evil" (2018). Faculty Publications. 2.
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