O’Connor’s Christian faith and the modern secular spirit-these two elements collided to produce her remarkable fiction. Her deeply grounded and acute Christian perceptive of the world made her a vigorous and effective opponent of modern secularism. She traced the secular and rationalizing tendencies of modernity back to the sixteenth century, but particularly to the eighteenth century, the so-called age of Enlightenment. In “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction,” she remarked:
Since the eighteenth century, the popular spirit of each following age has tended more and more to the view that the ills and mysteries of life will ultimately fall before the scientific advances of a man, a belief that is still going strong even though this is the first generation to face total extinction because of these advances.(Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald 41)
Narcissism and godlessness are likewise inseparable in O’Connor’s story “The Lame Shall Enter First.” The central character, Sheppard, has been widowed a year before and is irritated by the moping demeanor and general mediocrity of his ten-year-old son, Norton. A “City Recreational Director” who works with deprived boys on weekends, Sheppard dreams of rescuing Rufus Johnson, a bright but sullen youth with a prominent clubfoot, from a prospect of vice and squalor. Sheppard is uninterested in impressing others and originally seems laudably focused on his altruistic quest to help Rufus. However, it soon becomes clear that this project is far from selfless.
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