The World Was Made for the Dead

The World Was Made for the Dead

The thing about a Flannery O'Connor short story is: If you are willing, it will bother you in the most bothersome way. Which is to say: the story might eventually change you.

But, first things first.

To get us there, to take us to that peculiar grace that (perhaps) can transform us, the story must do a bit of violence in us—in order to lay bare the precise need.

As David Zahl at Mockingbird has carefully, theologically observed: "Christianity is not about good people getting better. It is about real people coping with their failure to be good."


The World Was Made for the Dead

Here, in a short story called "You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead," O'Connor, through her characters, muses on a living world filled with so much death and so many dead—

 

"The dead don't bother with particulars," the boy interrupted.

The old man grabbed the front of his overalls and pulled him up against the side of the box [coffin] so that their faces were not two inches apart. "The world was made for the dead. Think of all the dead there are," he said and then, as if he had conceived the answer for all insolence, he said, "There's a million times more dead than living and the dead are dead a million times longer than the living are alive!" and he released him with a laugh.  


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