Enoch And The Gorilla by Flannery O’Connor, 1952
The magic trick:
Drawing something beautiful from an absurd situation
This is not maybe a classic Flannery work. But it works in a classically Flannery manner. The story takes something low – maybe even absurd – and draws epiphany from it.
The situation couldn’t be more ridiculous. Enoch, a grown man, waits in the rain to see Gonga, the great gorilla making a celebrity appearance at a movie theater. But the encounter sends Enoch off to a higher level of consciousness. Something beautiful drawn from something base. And that’s quite a trick on O’Connor’s part.
Enoch was usually thinking of something else at the moment that Fate began drawing back her leg to kick him. When he was four years old, his father had brought him home a tin box from the penitentiary. It was orange and had a picture of some peanut brittle on the outside of it and green letters that said, “A NUTTY SURPRISE!” When Enoch had opened it, a coiled piece of steel had sprung out at him and broken off the ends of his two front teeth. His life was full of so many happenings like that it would seem he should have been more sensitive to his times of danger. He stood there and read the poster twice through carefully. To his mind, an opportunity to insult a successful ape came from the hand of Providence.
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