The Displaced Person
by Flannery O'Connor
Mrs. McIntyre is not a nice woman. She exploits her workers for their labor, paying them barely enough to survive, and never enough to get ahead. She also verbally abuses them. Her constant whining about how poor she is might be believable if she didn't keep buying new (and undoubtedly expensive) machinery for the farm. Everybody under her care is neglected, unhappy, and in constant fear of being fired. The question is, does Mrs. McIntyre change by the end of the story?
We would argue that she does. Up to the moment where Mr. Guizac is murdered (in large part due to her deliberate refusal to warn him) she is a pretty tough nut. Mr. Guizac's death changes that. The final paragraphs of the story describe the physical and mental breakdowns that leave her bedridden, blind, and voiceless. Her only non-paid visitor is Father Flynn. (This visitor is a bit ironic, since Mrs. McIntyre didn't want anything to do with his religion before.)
Without knowing her inner state, it's hard to know how she feels about the priest's weekly visits. We are told that "he would come in and sit by the side of her bed and explain the doctrines of the church" (3.65). If she feels guilty about her life, and has turned to religion for comfort, Father Flynn's presence might be a welcome thing. On the other hand, if she wants to deal with her misery without religion, then Father Flynn could be considered her tormentor. She can't speak to ask him to stop talking, and she can't get up and walk away. How do you feel about this situation? Is Father Flynn her tormentor, or her comforter? Maybe a little of both? You tell us.If you want more of our thoughts on Mrs. McIntyre, check out "What's Up with the Ending?"