Satire of the Antebellum Plantation Myth in Flannery O’Connor’s “The Displaced Person”


Flannery O’Connor satirizes the antebellum plantation myth which includes: the white aristocratic gentleman farmer, a kind and benevolent master; his dutiful loving wife; pleasant and genial black slaves, contentedly and peacefully serving their masters. This myth indeed is paradise.  Instead O’Connor presents in “A Displaced Person” as the plantation master, a triad of personalities: a deceased scoundrel judge; the miserly, penny-pinching Mrs. McIntyre; and the guileless, industrious Mr. Guizac. The pleasant and genial black slaves are replaced by the indolent characters of Astor and Sulk.  The fruitful paradise is exchanged for a decaying plantation, occupied by refugees and haunted by memories of the Holocaust and concentration camps.


Key words: plantation myth, O’Connor’s irony, decaying paradise

Margaret E. Mahoney, PhD.