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Before the Sun Has Set

Retribution in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor


John Lawrence Darretta

This detailed analysis of the theme of retribution is a key to understanding the fiction of Flannery O’Connor. An idea central to the Bible, Dante, and Chaucer – one is paid back for the evil one does or for failure to do good – retribution expresses O’Connor’s interest as a writer and defines the contour of her achievement as an artist. Within the twenty-year span of her writing career, O’Connor’s notion of retribution expanded from her original concept in her first story, «The Geranium,» of retribution as personal and familial, to her final version in her last story, «Judgement Day,» which shows an interest that is eschatological.