Skip to Navigation  Skip to Content  Skip to Footer Navigation 

The Walker Percy Project logo
The Walker Percy Project

Wingless Chickens, Bayou Catholics, and Pilgrim Wayfarers: Constructions of Audience and Tone in O'Connor, Gautreaux, and Percy


L. Lamar Nisly

O'Connor, Gautreaux, and Percy, are all Catholic writers from the Southand seem to embody very fully both parts of that label. Yet their fiction employs markedly different tones and modes of addressing their audience. O'Connor seems intent on shocking her reader, whom she anticipates will be hostile to her deepest beliefs. Gautreaux gently and humorously engages his reader, inviting his expected sympathetic audience to embrace the characters' needed moral growth. Percy satirically lampoons an array of social ills and failings in the Church, as he tries to get his audience laughing with him while he makes his deadly serious point about the flaws he finds in the Church and larger culture. Linking together biographical information and a reading of their fiction, Nisly argues that their sense of audience has been shaped in significant ways by each author's own experience of Catholicism.

L. Lamar Nisly is a Professor of English and the English and Language department chair at Bluffton University. He is the author Impossible to Say: Representing Religious Mystery in Fiction by Malamud, Percy, Ozick, and O'Connor.

Publication Date: January 2011