O'Connor, Good Country People: What is the meaning of this?

O’Connor’s depiction of humanity’s struggle with surrender and submission touched me more deeply than most of the modern works I’ve read lately. At one point–when Hulga starts shushing the boy and trying to seduce him into atheism–I actually felt some kind of strong internal reaction and inexplicably threw the book across the room. I felt repulsed, furious, and horrified all at the same time. Very few stories have ever drilled that far into my core, and it was certainly a surprise to me. —Chris UlicneO’Connor, Good Country People: What is the meaning of this? (Below Zero)

For the past few weeks, in my American Lit class we’ve been reading A Good Man is Hard to Find, a collection of short stories by Flannery O’Connor. The students have responded very well to the stories, though Chris’s reaction is unusually strong. I’m glad to know these works are having an effect on my students. I’ve been trying to get the students to discuss how O’Connor uses dark images and themes because without them, there’s no way to emphasize light.