The River (short story)
|Published in||A Good Man Is Hard to Find|
|Publication date||May 12 1955|
"The River" is a short story by the American author Flannery O'Connor. It is one of the ten stories included her short story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find, published in 1955. A Roman Catholic, much of O'Connor's work focuses on Christian concepts of pride, sin, and redemption.
The story focuses on a boy named Harry Ashfield who is brought to a Christian revival meeting by his babysitter, Mrs. Connin, a Christian who believes in faith healing. Harry is about four or five years old, and has a troubled home life. When he hears he is going to meet the young evangelist Bevel Summers, he tells Mrs. Connin that his name is Bevel. For the rest of the story, Harry is referenced as Bevel.
While at the revival, Bevel is baptized in the river by the evangelist who tells him he has a father in heaven who loves him, and that he is counted among the saved now—that he "counts." When the boy returns home, his family still ignores him despite the fact that he tells them that he now counts. In the morning, young Bevel returns to the river to re-experience the events of the preceding day and drowns while attempting to find the Kingdom of Christ.
- Richard Giannone, Flannery O'Connor, hermit novelist (University of Illinois Press, 2000)
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