Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition




In an effort to reach readers who do not share her strict Roman Catholic beliefs, Flannery O'Connor employs a number of persuasive devices. Prominent among those devices is her rhetorical use of the "as if" construction. As a theoretical joining of the "reality" of this world with the "unknown" of the supernatural, the "as if" introduces "mystery," a vital part of the reader's experience with any of O'Connor's fictional works. By closely examining O'Connor's various uses of the construction in her short stories, the "as if's" differing effects on the reader become apparent. These effects are further demonstrated by a reader-response analysis of O'Connor's novel, Wise Blood. Highlighting O'Connor's use of this rhetorical device provides insight into one of the many ways in which she reaches readers she might otherwise alienate and encourages them to consider concepts and occurrences they might otherwise deem implausible.