Monday, January 23, 2012

"The Geranium" by Flannery O'Connor

 "Old Dudley folded into the chair he was gradually molding to his own shape and looked out the window fifteen feet away into another window framed by blackened red brick. He was waiting for the geranium. They put it out every morning about ten and they took it in at five-thirty. Mrs. Carson back home had a geranium in her window. There were plenty of geraniums at home, better-looking geraniums. Ours are sho nuff geraniums, Old Dudley thought, not any er this pale pink business with green, paper bows."
From these opening lines, it's easy to surmise Old Dudley isn't very happy in New York City.  He agreed, in "a moment of weakness", to leave his home in a southern boarding house and move into the apartment his daughter shares with her family.
"The apartment was too tight. There was no place to be where there wasn't somebody else. The kitchen opened into the bathroom and the bathroom opened into everything else and you were always where you started from. At home there was upstairs and the basement and the river and downtown..."
Now Old Dudley is lonely, isolated, and intimidated by the city. He resents the relaxed racial attitudes of the north and struggles with the fact that black people live in the same building as his daughter. The geranium's appearance on the windowsill each morning is the single constant in his life... until one day when it is no longer there. The ending is very moving.

Why has it taken me so long to discover Flannery O'Connor? I recently purchased The Complete Stories and my first inclination was to turn to "A Good Man is Hard to Find", but I decided to start at the beginning instead. "The Geranium" was Flannery O'Connor's first published story. It appeared in Accent: A Quarterly of New Literature in 1946 and was written as part of her six story Masters thesis project. Reading these stories in order will allow me to watch this great talent unfold. I really enjoyed "The Geranium"- you can read it here.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.


  1. That sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for the link. I just bookmarked it. Have a great week and happy reading!

  2. I love Flannery O'Connor! I'm just now, for the first time, reading her novel Wise Blood for book club.

  3. I've got to read this story! Sounds so good. I've read just a bit of O'Connor, and have been meaning to read more.

    I like to start at the beginning with an author too :)

    Love the opening lines (and photo).

  4. Kaye - Hope you enjoy the story... such wonderful writing. Have a good week.

    Amy - I can't believe it's taken me this long to read her! I'll be on the lookout for your Wise Blood post - am sure I'll get to it eventually.

    JaneGS - The beginning is a perfect place to start! It's going to be fun to watch her talent develop over the course of the collection. I'll be curious to hear what you think of this. Glad you like the photo, too.

  5. I've read a little Flannery O'Connor, but would like to read more. Thanks for sharing this story, it sounds excellent.

  6. I've yet to read O'Connor and know I am missing something wonderful now!

  7. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this. I'm pretty sure this is one of the few O'Connor stories I haven't read, so I'm glad you posted a link. Hope you enjoy the others. Her stories are brilliant!

  8. Julie - It was! This is going to be a great collection to read through.

    Kathleen - I can't believe it's taken me this long to read O'Connor. Maybe you could start with her first story, too:-)

    Teresa - The first 6 stories in the collection are all part of her Masters project. I can't wait to read more!

  9. You always bring new works and authors for me to get excited about!! Thanks!

  10. Thanks for reviewing the story, I haven't read any of his works either. I just found The Geranium, for those who want to read it. Here's the link:

  11. This short story is touching. I haven't read Flannery O'Connor yet and I don't know why. Maybe, hopefully, this will be the push I need!

    My mom was a big fan of Flannery O'Connor and loved her short stories. It's wonderful that you have the book of her short stories, it's a definite keeper.
    I hope you post about some of her other stories, JoAnn.

  12. Staci - Aww, thanks! Hope you get a chance to try one of her stories.

    Teddy Rose - I think I'm going to enjoy making my way through this collection. Let me know if you decided to read "The Geranium".

    Amy - That's exactly what I said-I don't know why I'd never read Flannery O'Connor. Glad to finally get started and I hope you will soon, too. Will post on some of the others from time to time.

  13. I really enjoyed The Geranium. Flannery O'Connor is wonderful! I have about 8 stories left in her complete collection, and I'm looking forward to reading the last (Judgement Day I think?) because I've heard that it's a reworking of The Geranium.

  14. Melody - Yes, the last one is Judgement Day and I believe it is a reworking of The Geranium. It must have been great fun watching her craft develop as you read through the collection... can't wait to see what she's done with The Geranium!

  15. I don't know much about O'Connor, but I'm in love with the artwork you've chosen. I love geraniums! Wish I could keep them alive, inside and out.

  16. Les - I always plant geraniums outside, but have had no luck keeping them alive indoors. Just stumbled upon this artist's website while searching for images. She's very talented... take a look when you have a chance.

  17. I reviewed it today. Thanks again for bringing it to my attention.


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