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Home Forums Book Club The River by Flannery O’Connor

  • Jacy Cohen

    April 20, 2023 at 7:31 am

    Flannery O’Connor was born in 1925 and died at the young age of 39. She was born, and died in, Georgia. Most of her stories are set in the South and involve individuals’ relationships with God. She was raised Roman Catholic and passed away from a decade long battle with lupus. One can quickly pick up on her grim outlook on life and humanity while reading through her works.

    Here are a few questions for discussion after you read:

    After reading the first couple of sentences, what is your original gut feeling about this story?

    Do you think Mrs. Connin really wanted to help Harry or was she just swept up in the sensationalism of the river preaching?

    Do you think Mr. Paradise had good intentions when he followed Harry to the river? Does Mr. Paradise represent a deeper meaning in the story or was he simply another odd character?

    What did you think of Harry’s naivety in taking the preacher’s words so literally?

  • Jordan Sparks

    April 23, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    Ok I had never heard of this story nor read anything by O’Conner before so once I got to the end of this story I was completely shocked! I also think I missed a lot of symbolism on my first read through.

    I think she did have good intentions. Seemed she wanted to help Harry from the beginning of the story and felt sorry for his lot in life.

    Mr. Paradise!! What on earth. I thought he was coming to help the boy! I guess not. One commentary I read was that he was embodiment of a paradise afterlife. That Harry was leaving his current life situation and was going on to eternal paradise. Hence his seeing his face along as he floated along? Who knows. So odd.

    As far as him taking the preacher’s words about the river literally. I think Harry’s life was so bleak he probably was hopefully to be able to reach any physical kingdom more hopeful than his own.

    • Jacy Cohen

      April 24, 2023 at 10:15 am

      I thought Mr. Paradise was going to help Harry as well but then a commentary I read said he represents temptations that distract us from following God (Mr. Paradise bringing candy and then yelling at Harry when he was in the river).

      From the moment I started reading, I felt uncomfortable. The whole story just had a dark shadow to it. Our next short story is by PG Wodehouse and I have higher hopes for a more cheery disposition from him 😆

  • Jordan Sparks

    April 23, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    What about Mrs. Connin saying she was going to keep Harry (Bevel) when she was talking to the preacher?? I wish she would have adopted him. Although her boys were mean to him so that probably wouldn’t have been great either. Ugh poor little boy. This was such a troubling story.

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