Flannery O’Connor’s bedroom, where the author did most of her writing. The aluminum crutches shown in the photograph were to help the author walk around her ancestral farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville, Georgia, due to systemic lupus erythematosus. While only expected to live for five more years after the diagnosis, O’Connor survived for fourteen more, completing more than two dozen short stories and two novels until her death on August 3, 1964, at the age of thirty-nine.
Flannery O’Connor reads ”A Good Man is Hard to Find” in a Southern accent so delicious you could drink it
The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.
My tone is not meant to be obnoxious. I am in a state of shock.
Flannery O’Connor responds to a school teacher’s odd take on A Good Man Is Hard to Find, offering some timeless broader insight on storytelling and interpretation in the process.
Susan Sontag put it even more forcefully: “Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling… Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world.”