Research Publication Title

The Weight of Centuries Lies on Children: A Study of Young Harry Ashfield

Major

English (Master of Arts)

Faculty Mentor(s)

Marshall B. Gentry

Abstract

"Southern grotesque author Flannery O'Connor writes about many different types of children throughout her fiction: those who grow up too fast, those who seem to never grow up, those who influence the redemption of adults, those who are neglected, and so on. Seeing as O'Connor's child characters are so prevalent in her short stories, much speculation has transpired regarding these children. O'Connor offers a chilling story about childhood suicide in ÒThe River,Ó which focuses on young Harry Ashfield. The child is focused on in criticism more often than most of O'Connor's children. Most critics seemingly believe that the young boy willingly dies in order to be saved; however, I believe the child gains an understanding of the vices of adulthood and therefore chooses to remain a child forever. By taking a deeper look at this particular story, ÒThe River,Ó I hope to clarify Flannery O'Connor's attempt to remain a child forever. Consideration of the author's many other short stories containing child characters makes clear that the author's stories mirror the stages of her own life. In her most productive stage of her writing career, O'Connor's short stories mainly focus on childhood."

Start Date

10-4-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

10-4-2015 3:30 PM

Location

HSB 202

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Apr 10th, 2:30 PM Apr 10th, 3:30 PM

The Weight of Centuries Lies on Children: A Study of Young Harry Ashfield

HSB 202

"Southern grotesque author Flannery O'Connor writes about many different types of children throughout her fiction: those who grow up too fast, those who seem to never grow up, those who influence the redemption of adults, those who are neglected, and so on. Seeing as O'Connor's child characters are so prevalent in her short stories, much speculation has transpired regarding these children. O'Connor offers a chilling story about childhood suicide in ÒThe River,Ó which focuses on young Harry Ashfield. The child is focused on in criticism more often than most of O'Connor's children. Most critics seemingly believe that the young boy willingly dies in order to be saved; however, I believe the child gains an understanding of the vices of adulthood and therefore chooses to remain a child forever. By taking a deeper look at this particular story, ÒThe River,Ó I hope to clarify Flannery O'Connor's attempt to remain a child forever. Consideration of the author's many other short stories containing child characters makes clear that the author's stories mirror the stages of her own life. In her most productive stage of her writing career, O'Connor's short stories mainly focus on childhood."