Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

Sub-Department

Creative Writing

First Advisor

David Bajo

Abstract

It is through the grotesque that Flannery O'Conner's characters achieve grace, and often the only hope for self-actualization rests in death and malformation. This is perhaps her greatest irony. The protagonists of The Finer Things, however, never self-actualize: they simply act without understanding or questioning why. This is because they are rarely confronted with the grotesque; instead they actively seek it for themselves. The grotesque isn't revelatory, but rather, it satisfies romantic ideals and desires, or is pursued in effort to escape aggressive bureaucracies that typify Kafka's short stories. This characterizes the ironic aesthetic of The Finer Things. Working in tandem with the romantic and the grotesque is the overarching motif: there is little to distinguish the white walls of the city art galleries from the white walls of the asylum. People are created, manipulated, controlled, put on display against their will, judged, and in some cases destroyed, which further speaks to the universal longing for the macabre.

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