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Southern Gothic Literature


Southern Gothic Literature Background Information on writing style and on Flannery O Connor Background Sub-genre of the Gothic style Popular in Europe in 1800s ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Southern Gothic Literature

Southern Gothic Literature
  • Background Information on writing style and on
    Flannery OConnor

  • Sub-genre of the Gothic style
  • Popular in Europe in 1800s
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Unique to American literature
  • relies on supernatural, ironic or unusual events
    to guide the plot
  • uses these to explore social issues and reveal
    the cultural character of the American South.

  • Takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the
    monster or the heroic knight, and turns them into
    American Southerners
  • a spiteful, reclusive spinster an uneducated
  • a quiet, wise lawyer
  • Most notable feature is the grotesque
  • a character whose negative qualities allow the
    author to highlight unpleasant aspects in
    Southern culture.
  • Something in the town, the house, the farm is
    bizarre and often falling apart

Defining Feature
  • Cast of off-kilter characters
  • Broken bodies, minds or souls
  • Used to symbolize problems created by the
    established pattern
  • Used to question established patterns morality
    and ethical justification
  • The Innocent is a common character, who may or
    may not be broken, but who often acts as a
    redeemer for others. For example, Scout from To
    Kill a Mockingbird

Other Specific Features of Southern Gothic
  • Freakishness
  • Outsider
  • Imprisonment
  • Violence
  • Sense of Place

  • In most southern gothic stories, there is an
    important character (not always the protagonist
    nor the antagonist) who is set apart from the
    world in a negative way by a disability or an
    odd, and often negative perception of the world.

  • Southern novels are filled with characters who
    are set a part from the established cultural
    pattern, but who end up being heroes because
    their difference allows them to see new ways of
    doing things that ultimately help to bring people
    out of the dark.

  • This is often both literal and figurative.
  • Many southern gothic tales include an incident
    where a character is sent to jail or locked up.
  • There are also Southern gothic characters that
    live in fate's prison.

  • Racial, social and class difference often create
    underlying tension in Southern gothic novels that
    threatens, and usually does, erupt in violent ways

Sense of Place
  • You cant read a Southern Gothic novel without
    understanding what a Southern town feels like
  • old small towns
  • Houses have front porches with rocking chairs
  • Old downtown with stately but worn-down buildings

Southern Gothic Novels/Books
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee) About a young girl
    growing up in the racist Jim Crow south and her
    white father, who is a lawyer, defends a black
    man accused of raping a white woman
  • In Cold Blood (Capote) Introduced a new genre of
    literature (non-fiction novel). The book tells
    the true story of a murdered family and the two
    men who committed the crime

Southern Gothic Novels/Books
  • The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner) Fiction novel
    told from 4 points of view about the
    deterioration of the Compson family, spanning
    over a 30 year period. Employs various narrative
    styles, including stream of consciousness.
  • Wise Blood (OConnor) Story of a recently
    discharged World War II war veteran (Hazel Motes)
    who returns to his Tennessee home to find it
    abandoned. From there, he begins to wander around
    in search of something greater.

Flannery OConnor
  • Flannery O'Connor was born on March 25, 1925, in
    Savannah, Georgia.
  • She studied writing at the University of Iowa and
    published The Geranium, her first short story,
    in 1946.
  • She wrote novels, but was best known for her
    short story collections.
  • She died of lupus in 1964 after fighting it for
    more than 10 years.
  • More detailed Biography
  • http//

Flannery OConnor Short Stories
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • http//
  • Good Country People
  • http//