Partial Answers - Homepage Journal of Literature and The History of Ideas The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
 Publications

 Volume 16/1: includes forum "Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Sounding Postmodernity
 Jarmila Mildorf

 Narrativity and Sound in German Radio Play Adaptations of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy
 Till Kinzel

 Non-Sovereign Voices in Friederike Mayröcker’s Aural Texts
 Inge Arteel

 Singing Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
 Anahita Rouyan

 Being Silent, Doing Nothing
 Agatha Frischmuth

 Musical Macrostructures in The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo by Richard Powers; or, Toward a Media-Conscious Audionarratology
 A. Elisabeth Reichel

 New Modes of Listening
 Emily Petermann

 Narrating Sounds
 Jarmila Mildorf and Till Kinzel

Get Adobe Reader

Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 9, Issue 1 (August 2011) : 111-29
The Politics of the Cliché
Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation” and “The Displaced Person”
Carole K. Harris
Rubric A: Literature and Ethics
Rubric B: Women Writers

Abstract

 

Flannery O’Connor did not see herself as a political writer, and many critics perpetuate her self-image in their assessment of her work. She was, however, a keen observer of the politics of everyday conversation. By exploring the ritualized exchange of clichés between employer and hired help, particularly in “Revelation” (1964) and “The Displaced Person” (1954), this essay examines the ways in which O’Connor draws attention to the peculiar collective power of the cliché. The two stories demonstrate the politics of the cliché in her fiction, a phenomenon some critics overlook because they assume, as many of O’Connor’s characters do, that clichés are empty platitudes. “Revelation” dramatizes the politics of the cliché in a democratic setting, whereas “The Displaced Person” calls attention to the way in which clichés confirm and contest hierarchies of power in the master-servant relationship. In “Revelation,” the seemingly benign (and often hilarious) exchange of clichés between two key female characters serves to exclude a third party. The ritualization of their exchange, however, and the assumption that clichés are banal, mask this act of exclusion. “The Displaced Person” also stars two female characters who exchange clichés to exclude an outsider, and because clichés have the ability to echo unexpectedly across conversations, they function both inside and outside the women’s relationship. A variety of other speakers draw on a communal stock and recycle the same clichés. The regularities with which clichés and silences circulate in the conversations between the two key characters can thus be extrapolated to a network of other relationships within the story. Over time, a single act of exclusion on the part of two characters develops the potential to trigger escalating acts of aggression, verbal and physical. “The Displaced Person” suggests that clichés carry unexpected and potentially ever graver consequences in a collective context. “Revelation” and “The Displaced Person” enable O’Connor to explore issues of democracy in a new way; read in the context of each other, they highlight the political and ethical significance of clichés, in particular their relation to violence.


 All Rights Reserved to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem- Partial Answers © 2004. Powered By Priza

The Johns Hopkins University Press