Born in Savannah, and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia, Flannery O'Connor became a champion of The Southern Gothic literary movement. A genre of literature that sought to undercut, and interrogate various issues that continued to dog the American South, specifically Lost Cause ideology -- a set of beliefs and customs concerning gender roles and racial prejudice those dwelling beneath The Mason-Dixon line sought to maintain after Civil War and the dissolution of The Confederacy.
Praised for her use of grotesque characters suffering from physical deformities, and placing them in violent situations combined with her ability to transcend limitations often prescribed to disabilities, race, criminality, and religion, O'Connor's work consisting of two novels and several collections of short stories garnered her a National Book Award in 1972. Here are 5 of the best lines delivered by one of the greatest storytellers to ever emerge from The Deep South along with the likes of William Faulkner and Harper Lee:
1. "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."
Love it. Hate it. Disagree with it. Look away from it. The truth is the truth.
2. "She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity."
No matter how nice you dress, or how polite you are, a nice suit and handsome manners are never indicative of the presence of genius.
3. "I don't deserve credit for turning the other cheek, as my tongue is always in it."
Whether we look at something, someone, or away from him/her. There's always something to say. Especially the more we find ourselves looking away.
4. "Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it."
You can never go back to whence you came. Nor will you wind up in the place you seek to go -- even if you get there. Nevertheless, you have to go somewhere.
5. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd."
Being yourself starts with accepting who you are, and what you are is something unique and broken in such a way that those around may perceive you as deformed. Because deformity, like honesty, is not something that manifests before the naked, if not the common eye, on a daily basis.
Although Flannery O'Connor only survived until a year shy of her fortieth birthday, in memory survives her stories that linger on the shelves of libraries and bookstores. Serving to remind us that while we may not come to embody the beauty we perceive in others, or arrive in places ever fair to gaze upon, we will still be something, and we will still arrive somewhere. Somewhere where all that is beautiful and fair rests in the arriving as much as it does in being.