ABSTRACT

Bernard Shaw and Flannery O'Connor are more alike in crucial respects than perfunctory assessments might suggest. This article defends two propositions. First, Shaw and O'Connor are kindred distance realists claiming to perceive something exceeding the external reality that initially presents itself for observation. Second, Shaw and O'Connor oracularly employ the same rhetorical strategy—the comic—and the same tactic within that genre—the shocking—to express their shared vision of the sullied age they live in, and to project an alternative way of being in the world that can potentially redeem the race and safeguard the environment: an approach to existence grounded in the social gospel Jesus taught and lived during his Galilean ministry. To help make the presentation concrete, one short story by O'Connor, “Good Country People,” and one play by Shaw, Major Barbara, serve as probative examples of just how close the pair are when it comes to matters of paramount concern.

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