Self-Deception and Moral Epiphany in Flannery O’Connor

  • Julie Kirsch D'Youville College
Keywords: self-deception, Flannery O'Connor, Narrative, Ethics, Memory, Imagination


Self-deception is an important theme in several of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. In this essay, I explore the nature and ethics of self-deception by considering the self-deceived characters in O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge and Revelation. In the first part of the essay, I look at the contribution that biased and selective modes of thinking, the construction of narratives, and acts of imagination and memory make to self-deception. Following O’Connor, I also consider the possibility of overcoming self-deception by experiencing a shocking and emotionally charged event or encounter. In the second part, I discuss the often-dangerous moral and personal consequences of self-deception. I show that self-deception can interfere with decision making, blind us to our own moral shortcomings, and enable immoral behavior.   


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