The saving rape: Flannery O'Connor and patriarchal religion.
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthral me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Nothing in O'Connor quite so flagrantly bears out the feminist theologian Mary Daly's assertion that "[t]he myths and symbols of Christianity are essentially sexist" - which is to say "rapist."(1) Certainly none of O'Connor's women - neither Mrs. May nor Mrs. Turpin nor Joy/Hulga Hopewell - invites assault. Still, it is the author's strategy in "Greenleaf," "Revelation," and "Good Country People" to knock these proud female characters down a notch - for Mrs. May that notch is death itself - by forcing upon them, in a sexually humiliating and often violent way, the humbling knowledge that they are after all women. It is not simply that they are merely human while God is divine; it is rather that they are female while God is male. O'Connor's insistence that these women surrender their pride, which has been masculine in its figuration, to Christ and that the dramatization of this abasement take the form of sexual submission bears also on their relationships with the men in their lives. As Daly scornfully puts it, "Since |God' is male, the male is God" (p. 609). 1 wish to examine in the light of these observations the fates of those three women. But let us first consider, for the sake of contrast, the case of Asbury Fox, the effeminate mama's boy in "The Enduring Chill," whose rescue by the "Third Person of the Trinity" destines him to become a man.(2)
At the end of this story a male character lies sprawled on his bed, "[t]he old life in him . . . exhausted," as a phallic Holy Ghost (represented by a birdlike water stain on the ceiling, a "fierce bird with [an] icicle in its beak" [p. 374]) descends on him. This tableau anticipates our last glimpse in "Good Country People" of Hulga, who has herself "lost her life" during a seduction in a barn loft. However, it is not the man's sexual vulnerability that O'Connor exploits in "The Enduring Chill"; for it is as a female that this prepubescent "boy of twenty-five" (p. 357) is violated by Dr. Block: "Asbury lay with a rigid outraged stare" - that "outraged" hints of rape - "while the privacy of his blood was invaded by this idiot" (p. 367).(3) Later, when we hear of the picture in Asbury's room of "a maiden chained to a rock," which he has his mother remove before the priest's visit, we realize that Asbury, confined by undulant fever to his bed, is playing Andromeda to the Holy Ghost's Perseus (p. 374). Flat on his back in bed, Asbury plays Andromeda, "punished," as Horace Gregory's Ovid explains, "Because the poor girl had a foolish mother / Who talked too much."(4)
On the first page of the story O'Connor establishes a contrast between "a god [Asbury] didn't know" (p. 357) and his oversolicitous mother whom he accuses, in a letter we learn about later, of having clipped his wings - of having rendered him impotent (p. 364). From his response to her suggestion that he remove his coat - "I'm old enough to know when I want to take my coat off!" (p. 358) - it is clear that Asbury resents his mother's treating him like a little boy. The question posed by the story at the outset is whether or not he is justified in feeling that she has pinioned him. This question goes hand in glove with the contrast - the conflict even - between the mother and the god he doesn't know. In other words, an affirmative answer - yes, Mrs. Fox has not let her son grow up - implies also that she has neglected to introduce him to that God: she has failed to place him within that "mythic symbolic procession toward |God,'" in Daly's caustic description, which "begins with belief in possession by evil forces . . ., release from which requires captivity by the church. What is ultimately sought" through baptism and confirmation, Daly concludes, "is reconciliation with the Father" (pp. 614-615).(5)
The end of the story portends Asbury's escape - his spiritual flight - from his mother, his reconciliation with the Father, and so his obtainment of manhood. In New York Father Vogel (whose German name, which means bird," anticipates Asbury's captivity by the patriarchal church) has spoken of "a real probability of the New Man, assisted, of course, . . . by the Third Person of the Trinity" (p. 360), and Father Finn has indicted Mrs. Fox: "I should think you would have taught him to say his daily prayers. You have neglected your duty as his mother" (p. 377). (Asbury has reported to Father Finn that his mother "doesn't [herself] have time to pray" [p. 376].) Thus would the priest affirm that Mrs. Fox has failed to let her son grow up. Through her negligence of his spiritual education, she has kept him from becoming Father Vogel's New Man. In that Asbury's salvation finds a parallel in Andromeda's wedding to the winged Perseus, his sexuality remains ambivalent. Even so, O'Connor does imply that his union with the omnipotent Holy Ghost - his embracement by those wings - will lift and fortify his spirit; despite a future interrupted by periods of impotency - an undulating future of fever and chills - Asbury will have transcended his role as the archetypal sacrificial virgin and become at least a sometimes potent male.
The embodiment of male potency in "Greenleaf," a story of courtship, is, of course, the bull. This "uncouth country suitor," as O'Connor describes it, eating its way to Mrs. May, embodies a ravenous sexuality. At the same time the bull is an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. "[L]ike some patient god come down to woo her," it brings initially to mind the classical myth of Jove and Europa, who actually climbs aboard the animal (pp. 311-312). But O'Connor's later description of the bull, first in Mrs. May's dream, "rac[ing] down the hill toward her" (p. 329), and then in actuality "bounding toward her" (p. 333), also brings to mind the second song of Solomon:
Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle,
or a young stag.(6)
In O'Connor's grotesque version he is, in the words of the reluctant bride, "a Greenleaf bull if I ever saw one" (p. 323). As the editors of The New English Bible explain, "In Christian tradition [the Song of Solomon] has been interpreted as an allegory of the love of Christ for his bride, the church." Thus, with its "prickly crown," really a "hedge-wreath" (pp. 311-312), the bull is no less an incarnation of the Holy Spirit than the Bridegroom in the parable of the wise and foolish maidens is a representation of Christ (Matthew 25). In fact, the theme of this parable, one of several parables that answer the disciples' question, "Tell us, . . . what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" is also the theme of "Greenleaf," whose protagonist, with foolish self-confidence, asserts, "I'll die when I get good and ready" (p. 32 1). As Jesus concludes his cautionary narrative, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
Described as it is in explicitly sexual terms, the consummation of the courtship, while it spells real death for Mrs. May, encourages us to understand the old sexual connotation of the verb "to die." Indeed, her arrogant assertion that she will die when she's "good and ready" is part and parcel of her illusory, yet confidently asserted self-sufficiency, which denies her femininity except when she can affect its stereotypical helplessness to gain advantage over men. A widow whose husband has left her only a "broken-down farm" (p. 319), she has, as Suzanne Morrow Paulson puts it, "take[n] over the powerful male role of her dead husband"(7); and now, in O'Connor's words, the "only adult on this place," she brags about her "iron hand" and so declares her masculinity (p. 321). (Freud traces the "mastery impulse" to the significant role of the hand in male masturbation.(8)) We suspect her sincerity when she grumbles to her two grown sons, "I've always been the victim," just as we wonder later, at what may be the turning point in the story, if Mrs. May has any inkling of the metaphysical implications of her remark, "If there were a man running this place . . . " (pp. 327-329). (That man should be Christ.) As a victim, she can hardly boast a phallic iron hand. The son is onto something when he ridicules her boastfulness: " |Look at Mamma's iron hand!' Scofield would yell and grab her arm and hold it up so that her delicate blue-veined little hand would dangle from her wrist like the head of a broken lily," a yonic symbol (p. 322).
Unknowingly Wesley also hits upon a truth when, having observed the eternal youthfulness of Mrs. Greenleaf, he suggests, "You ought to start praying, Sweetheart," and later when he becomes exasperated with his mother and "snarl[s]," "why don't you pray for me like Mrs. Greenleaf." His mother has "kept it up too long" about the trouble she takes with his salt-free diet (pp. 319-320). She attempts to establish her authority as her sons' mother - and not as their "sweetheart" or "sugarpie" or the reductive, generic "woman" - by yapping," as Wesley puts it (p. 321). According to psychoanalysts, as Otto Fenichel explained a long time ago, "The function of speech is frequently connected unconsciously with the genital function, particularly with the male genital function. To speak means to be potent; inability to speak means castration."(9) Prayer, in contrast, is the one form of speech that is not self-assertive; it expresses rather the abnegation of self. Milton's Adam recognizes that every constituent of homemaking, even fire (that most aggressively phallic element), is but a sign of human insufficiency, a "remedy or cure / To evils which our own misdeeds have wrought" and in whose use God "will instruct us praying" (PL, X. 1055-1085). But Mrs. May regards the farm as the product of her "iron hand": "When she looked out any window in her house, she saw the reflection of her own character" (p. 321).
Like Adam, Mr. Greenleaf, one of "the [presumably unbroken] lilies of the field" (p. 319), "thank[s] Gawd for ever-thang" (p. 324). But it is Mrs. Greenleaf's praying that gets our notice: |Jesus!Jesus!'. . . The sound was so piercing that [Mrs. May, who witnesses the scene] felt as if some violent unleashed force had broken out of the ground and was charging toward her." As if in the throes of sexual transport, Mrs. Greenleaf prostrates herself before Jesus, beseeching him to "stab [her] in the heart." Mrs. May, obviously recognizes the sexual dimension of this submissive stance. She "winces," and O'Connor explains, "She thought the word, Jesus, should be kept inside the church building like other words inside the bedroom" (pp. 316-317). In contrast to Mrs. May, Mrs. Greenleaf has known her place all along - not only as regards her Lord, but also as regards her men: in the back of the pickup truck with her five daughters or prone on the ground screaming with Donne for Jesus. So must Mrs. May in time give up herself and her voice to her wild tormented lover," and as he "burie[s] his head in her lap" and "pierce[s]" her heart, sigh in words beyond speech "some last discovery into the animal's ear" (p. 334).
In "Revelation" Mrs. Turpin, who is perhaps even more socially conscious than Mrs. May, also fails to know her proper place. Right away O'Connor humiliates Mrs. Turpin by fixing her with epithets that demean her womanhood. Not content to place her later behind the "niggers" on the bottom rung of the social ladder - the "swinging bridge" that makes a sort of Jacob's ladder up to Heaven (p. 508) - O'Connor first implies that this woman, who thinks she is a lady (p. 488), is a cow, and soon is labeling her not simply a sow but a wart hog from hell. Mrs. Turpin would have been a "nigger" before she'd have been "white trash": "a neat clean respectable Negro woman, herself but black" (p. 49 1). Later, when she responds to the "trashy" woman's suggestion that "[t]hey ought to send all them niggers back to Africa" with the observation, "Nooo, . . . they're going to stay here where they can go to New York and marry white folks and improve their color," and Claud in turn jokes that "what comes of that" is "white-faced niggers" (p. 496), we recall that earlier description of a black-faced Ruby Turpin and recognize her now as a "white-faced nigger."(10) We now remember, too, that the Turpins keep, in addition to hogs, cows, "just enough white-face that Claud can look after them himself" (p. 493). He has not always done so successfully, since one of them kicked him and injured his leg. This injury, an ulcer on his calf, has brought the Turpins to the doctor's office. If the weight-conscious Mrs. Turpin is not herself the white-face cow that kicked him, so does she dominate her husband that we cannot keep from wondering, as she "ease[s] into the vacant chair, which h[olds] her tight as a corset," if she has not been responsible for some other, psychosexual wound of which the ulcer hints (p. 489). After all, she has effectively silenced Claud, who speaks only to tell his little joke about the "white-faced niggers," a joke which, mischievously perhaps, subverts Mrs. Turpin's authority by unmasking her for the reader.
In this story of a mother and her child, the mother is really a wife, Mrs. Turpin, and the child, Claud, is her husband. (It is always "Mrs. Turpin" and "Claud," never "Mr. Turpin" and "Ruby.") The relationship is, in a word, dysfunctional. The woman, as we say, wears the pants; or to put the matter in a vulgar but more revealing way, she is the one with balls. Mrs. Turpin's usurpation of Claud's masculinity makes it all the more apparent that his ulcer is a displaced sexual wound. Though the book hurled by Mary Grace knocks Mrs. Turpin in the head, this assault on her is psychosexual. About this O'Connor leaves no doubt. She describes the Turpins' house in feminine terms: "with its little flower beds spread out around it like a fancy apron," it sits "primly" between two trees; but Mrs. Turpin, as she and Claud drive home after the incident at the doctor's office, "would not have been startled to see a burnt wound between two blackened chimneys" (p. 502). This description of her ruined house, suggestive of castration, externalizes her injury. The assault has hurt her where she lives.
Once home and lying on the bed with Claud, Mrs. Turpin demands a kiss from him to reassure herself that she is, if not a lady, at least a woman and not a wart hog from hell. Unconvinced, she later hectors God: "How am I a hog and me both?" (p. 506). In doing battle now with the supreme patriarch, she has assumed an inappropriate self-assertive stance that challenges not only Claud's masculinity but also the potency of the Son of man. With "the look of a woman going single-handed, weaponless, into battle," she has gone out to the pen where Claud is hosing down the hogs (p. 505). With the phallic hose, which she rudely snatches from his hands, she arms herself. Of course it may be that one of the legion of demons that Christ casts out of the man and into the herd of swine in Mark 5 has lodged in Mrs. Turpin; for it is she, who "look[s] like [she] might haved swallowed a mad dog," that needs hosing off (p. 506). Like that herd of swine, she must drown. O'Connor signals the presence of Christ when she observes, "The sun was behind the wood, very red, looking over the paling of trees like a farmer inspecting his own hogs." No doubt it is Ruby Turpin's baptism - the "rite of exorcism" by which Christians join Mary Daly's procession (p. 614) - which this grotesque version of the Good Shepherd has in mind, and he has the bigger hose. This new relationship between her and her lord and master promises to set aright her relationship with her emasculated husband.
The young woman in "Good Country People" has also - intellectually at least - transformed herself into a man, a god. Hulga plays Vulcan to Joy's Venus - "the ugly sweating Vulcan," who also happens to be lame, "to whom, presumably, the goddess had to come when called" (p. 275).
The myth that subtly informs this story is not, however, the classical myth of Vulcan and Venus but rather what Albert Gelpi, in "Emily Dickinson and the Deerslayer," calls "the major myth of the American experience" - that of "the pioneer on the frontier."(11) in this myth, as Gelpi describes it, "The pioneer claims his manhood by measuring himself against the unfathomed, unfathomable immensity of his elemental world, whose |otherness' he experiences at times as the inhuman, at times as the feminine, at times as the divine - most often as all three at once" (p. 125). In "Good Country People" the young woman, whom Manley Pointer regards as "a new fantastic animal at the zoo" (p. 283), as a personification of Mother Nature herself (p. 284), and finally as a "goddess" to whom he presents as demeaning "offerings" a pocket flask of whiskey, a pack of pornographic playing cards, and a condom (p. 289) - Joy/Hulga is victimized by this myth. For "all too easily," as Gelpi explains, "[t]he man who reaches out to Nature to engage his basic physical and spiritual needs finds himself reaching out with the hands of the predator to possess and subdue, to make Nature serve his own ends. From the point of view of Nature, then, or of woman or of the values of the feminine principle the pioneer myth can assume a devastating and tragic significance" (p. 125).
The presence of this exploitative myth first reveals itself in O'Connor's account of Joy's loss of her leg: it "had been literally blasted off" in a hunting accident (p. 275). When Manley Pointer invites Hulga to go on a picnic, he explains, "I don't work on Saturday .... I like to walk in the woods and see what Mother Nature is wearing." Soon afterwards, when he abruptly asks, "Where does your wooden leg join on?" we suspect that Hulga herself may be the Mother Nature about whose attire - in this case, prosthesis - the Bible salesman is so curious (pp. 284-285). The scene in the loft confirms our suspicion. Here O'Connor presents her first as an earth mother, a goddess of the grain (not Venus, of course, but Proserpina perhaps, who is also at a god's beck and call) in a tableau that suggests, as one of my students perceived, the Annunciation: "She ... sat down in a pile of straw. A wide sheath of sunlight, filled with dust particles, slanted over her. She lay back against a bale, her face turned away, looking out the front opening of the barn where hay was thrown from a wagon into the loft." The feminine landscape towards which the girl's face is turned - with its "[tlwo pink-speckled hillsides [which] l[ie] back against a dark ridge of woods" - is a topographical representation of her naked, feminine self; she gazes at it as if she is viewing herself revealed in a mirror (p. 287). With Hulga thus revealed as Mother Nature, we realize now that the apparent accident, which cost her her leg, was itself an act of trespass against the feminine principle as embodied by the natural world, and we commonly label such a violation a rape.
There can be little doubt that the injury to Joy is at least psychosexual. She has in the past felt "shame," and she can still regard Manley Pointer's request that she show him where the prosthesis attaches to her stump as obscene (p. 288). Through education she has attempted to separate herself intellectually from her maimed but nonetheless female body. Through her adoption of a masculine persona, she has made submissive her feminine self Her conception of this self as Venus, the goddess of sexual love (rather than Proserpina, a fertility goddess), suggests repressed desire to have "normal good times" (p. 274). From behind her masculine mask she takes potshots at the Freeman girls, one of whom at fifteen is "already married and pregnant" and the older of whom has "many admirers" (p. 272), much as Emily Dickinson in the guise of a phallic "loaded gun" "hunt[s] the Doe."(12)
Moreover, the wooden leg itself, in which Hulga locates her identity - in which she finds her uniqueness - is a phallic object no less for her than for Mantey Pointer, who has, as Frederick Asals observes, "a flair for the fetishistic." Brenda S. Webster's definition of "fetish" (in her characterization of Yeats's "golden bird" in "Sailing to Byzantium") is much to the point: it is "a symbolic object with phallic significance that offers protection against fears of castration."(14) At the end of the story, robbed of her wooden leg, about which she is "as sensitive ... as a peacock about his tail" (p. 288), an outraged Hulga discovers anew her vulnerable female self, which O'Connor here as in "Revelation" seems to define as a castrated dismembered male.
Early in the story Hulga insists that if her mother wants her, "here I am - LIKE I AM" (p. 274), a line that brings to mind that egregious hymn of dedication, "Just as I am" - the congregation sings, while others parade to the front of the church to declare publicly their readiness to receive Christ as their personal savior. It is a hymn well worth recalling; for now, with the mask of one god, Vulcan, stripped away, Hulga may well be hearing another's voice that bids her come. If the story were filmed, we might ourselves expect to hear, right as the credits start to roll,
Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidd'st me come to thee, O Lamb of God. I come, I come.(15)
If Hulga's sin has been pride - the misplaced, arrogant confidence that she knows who she is - then at the end of the story, with that fake life lost and no new, authentic life miraculously found in her nihilistic false savior, she must now, be ready in her humility to receive the Word as she had been prepared to receive the Bible salesman. In that submissive position, that state of female receptivity, do we leave her, a normal girl.
Hulga, Mrs. Turpin, Mrs. May - in their pride (masculine in its figuration) all three of these women attempt the role of men in a quest for dominance over men as well as other women. Though the rebellious Asbury Fox must serve his time on the rock under the piercing stare of the one-eyed father from Purgatory, still this erstwhile mama's boy, in the guise of Andromeda with the Holy Ghost as his Perseus, will have become in his relationship with his domineering mother a New Man, a potent if hardly omnipotent male. The women, however, become at best objects of sexual conquest to be subdued not only by the omnipotent Father but also by the men whose potency they have demeaned - as Mrs. May disparages her "suitor" as just "[s]ome nigger's scrub bull" (p. 311). They become at worst, as I have argued, castrated versions of the male.
There is vet another disturbing way of viewing these female grotesques. In the eves of the patriarchal society, as Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar observe, women who "do not behave like angels ... must be monsters."(16) I believe that O'Connor's "monsters" externalize the "disease" that these feminist critics have named the "|anxiety of authorship,' an anxiety built from complex and often only barely conscious fears of that authority which seems to the female artist to be by definition inappropriate to her sex" (p. 51). It may be that Mary Flannery O'Connor first asserts that authority when, in 1945, she arrives at the State University of Iowa (from whose Writers' Workshop she graduates with an M.F.A. in 1947) and "[b]egins to introduce herself as Flannery O'Connor."(17) With her troublesome femaleness' obscured by the "androgynous neutrality" of that name - if not exactly hid within a pair of pants - O'Connor pens her fiction, well-made stories that are profoundly traditional in technique and theme.(18) In these displaced enactments of self-flagellation, the monstrous female characters become scapegoats for Flannery O'Connor, whose sin of authorship is greater even than their own prideful rejection of woman's conventional role as angel of the house. To them - and to herself - the rapist myths and symbols of her Christianity have this author growling with Tertullian, "Do you not know that you are Eve? ... You are the devil's gateway. ... How easily you destroyed man, the image of God."(19)
The annual meeting of the POPULAR CULTURE ASSOCIATION IN THE SOUTH / AMERICAN CULTURE ASSOCIATION IN THE SOUTH will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 20-22, 1994.
Those who wish to make a presentation at PCAS or ACAS should send a proposal title, along with an abstract of 50-150 words, and any requests for audio-visual equipment by MAY 10, 1994 to the Program Chair: Dr. Linda Rohrer Paige, Department of English and Philosophy, Landrum Box 8023, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro GA 30460-8023, (912) 681-0223, e-mail L-PAIGE@GSVMS2.CC.GASOU. EDU
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(1)"The Qualitative Leap Beyond Patriarchal Religion," Quest, 1 (1975); rpt. in A World of Ideas, ed. Lee A. Jacobus, 3rd ed. (Boston: St. Martin's, 1990), pp. 609-629. As Daly observes, the myths and symbols of Christianity insist on the maleness of God, trace evil to Woman's disobedience in the Garden, and embody redemption in "a single human being of the male sex" (pp. 609-610). As "God the Father legitimates all earthly Godfathers," so, she provocatively argues, does the "rape-incest myth" of the Annunciation and Incarnation subject women to a "State of Siege": "In a world ruled by God the Father [rape] is not considered a serious problem" (pp. 616-617). (2)Flannery O'Connor, "The Enduring Chill," in The Complete Stories (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971), p. 360. (3)Of course Asbury sells short the "idiot" Block, who humbles himself before the Mystery: "Most things are beyond me. . . . I ain't found anything yet that I thoroughly understood" (p. 367). (4)Ovid. The Metamorphoses (New York: Mentor, 1960), p. 131. (5)Of course Daly is hardly a champion of this "archetypal" procession. With Virginia Woolf, whose Three Guineas she cites, Daly finds in "the death-oriented military processions . . . the real direction of the whole scenario, which is a funeral procession of the human species." (6)There are other telling parallels. When Mrs. May wakes up from her dream of the charging bull, this "suitor" is "munching under her window" as it was doing at the beginning of the story (p. 329). As the Song of Solomon has it, the beloved "stands / behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, / looking through the lattice." Like the courtship in this song (which takes place when "flowers appear on the earth, / . . . / and the voice of the turtledove / is heard in our land"), the bull's wooing of Mrs. May takes place amid the "screaming" of birds; "Spring is here," she exclaims to a glum Mr. Greenleaf on their way to shoot the bull (p. 330). (7)Flannery O'Connor: A Study of the Short Fiction (Boston: Twayne, 1988), p. 41. (8)"Infantile Sexuality." Part II of Three Essays on the Theory of sexuality, in The Freud Reader, ed. Peter Gay (New York: Norton, 1989). pp. 266-267. (9)The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (New York: Norton, 1945), pp. 312-313. (10)The message from Mary Grace to Mrs. Turpin - "Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog"(p.500) - recalls this conversation between Mrs. Turpin and the "trashy woman." Like her "colored friends" (p. 495), Mrs. Turpin means to stay right here - and so improve her color? O'connor implies that this woman, by not returning to hell, may be cleansed. The racism implicit in this parallel is all the more disturbing in a story that on its surface champions pluralism. (11) Emily Dickinson and the Deerslayer: The Dilemma of the Woman Poet in America," in Shakespeare's Sisters: Feminist Essays on Women Poets, ed. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), p. 124. (12) Gelpi argues that ill the second stanza of "My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun" (lyric 754 in The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson), the poet's "identification" with a masculine "archetype" demands her "sacrifice of her womanhood, explicitly the range of personality. and experience as sexual and maternal woman" (p. 126). (13) Flannery O'Connor: The Imagination of Extremity (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1982), p. 105. (14) "A Psychoanalytic Study: |Sailing to Byzantium,'" in Literary Theories in Praxis, ed. Shirley F. Staton (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987), p. 309. (15) Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871). (16) The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 53. (17) Flannery O'Connor, Collected Works (New York: The Library of America, 1988), pp. 1240-1242. Sally Fitzgerald, who composed the Chronology that supplies this information, notes that O'Connor, as an undergraduate at Georgia State College, "[b]egins to sign academic work as Flannery O'Connor," while "family and friends continue to address her as Mary Flannery" (p. 1239). (18) I am quoting Gilbert and Gubar on an analogous authorial strategy in the nineteenth century. As they observe, "the three Bronte sisters ... concealed their troublesome femaleness behind the masks of Currer, Ellis, and Action Bell, names which Charlotte Bronte disingenuously. insisted they had chosen for their androgynous neutrality but which most of their earliest readers assumed were male" (p. 65). (19) De cultu feminarum, as quoted in Mary Daly, "Social Attitudes Towards Women," in Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Studies of selected Pivotal Ideas, gen. ed. Philip P. Wiener (New York: Scribner's. 1973), IV, 524.