Writing for the Atlantic, Paul Lisicky recalls two Flannery O’Connor short stories that taught him to love her work. Although critics often highlight O’Connor’s harshness toward her characters, Lisicky says these stories transcend the stereotyped image of her “little punishment machines:”
The aim of these stories is certainly satirical, but that’s only part of the plan. Her characters always have the capacity to morph, not just once but many times, and that’s the lesson I take into myself: into my own writing, and into what I value about the work of other writers who matter to me. That people, no matter how inert they seem to be, contain the capacity to surprise us, to change.