In "The Displaced Person" Flannery O'Connor focuses on the ill treatment of a Polish refugee seeking shelter on a farm in the American South during or shortly after World War II. The story presents a grim vision of America. It highlights extreme characters troubled by poverty, lack of opportunity, as well as racist and anti-immigrant sentiments. If we think of the story as a call to change, we can see that O'Connor writes from a place of hope, a recognition of human frailty, and belief in the possibility of renewal and redemption for all.
Questions About Visions of America
Is the vision of the American South presented here helpful in understanding American history? Present day issues? World history?
If you are a southerner, what do you think of this portrait of the American South in the early 1940s? Is it true? Offensive? Inaccurate? Justified? What evidence would you use to argue your position?
Does the story present a positive vision of America at any point?
If this story is a critique of America, what aspects of American life might it be criticizing?
Chew on This
The grim vision of America presented in "The Displaced Person" is echoed by many present day events.