Christian Allegories and Social Change in Southern Literature: A Comparative Study of Mason Tarwater and Atticus Finch in Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis compares Mason Tarwater of Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away and Atticus Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to better understand how each author comments on Christian allegories and social change within their novels. This thesis argues that To Kill a Mockingbird promotes social change through the Christian values of good Samaritanism, nonviolence, and inclusion, while The Violent Bear It Away promotes a problematic Christian message. This thesis identifies how both novels utilize religious allegory. In O’Connor’s novel, the paradoxical and violent prophet figure, Mason Tarwater, uses violence and division to evoke change, while in Lee’s novel, Atticus Finch uses nonviolence and inclusion to impact others in his society. I argue that the comparison of these two protagonists suggests that nonviolence and inclusion are more successful in evoking meaningful social change, as opposed to using tactics of violence and division.
Ruark, Marlee, "Christian Allegories and Social Change in Southern Literature: A Comparative Study of Mason Tarwater and Atticus Finch in Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird" (2023). English MA Theses. 16.