Who is like God? : divine versus demonic authority in the works of Dostoevsky and Flannery O'Connor.
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Hooten, Jessica Lynice.
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This dissertation explores issues of authority in the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Flannery O'Connor, using René Girard's theory of mimesis. O'Connor and Dostoevsky recognize the rejection of divine authority as the central religious problem of the modern world. Though their continents and centuries differ, the two writers lived in comparable cultures: the godlessness of nineteenth-century Russia only foreshadowed that of the twentieth-century American South. Moreover, in The Brothers Karamazov as well as in the whole of O'Connor's works, the godless world is not a neutral territory but a demonic dominion wherein characters who have rejected God as their authority now imitate Satan. René Girard defines freedom as the choice between modeling Satan or God, in such a way that the choosing of Satan is also a choosing of autonomous selfhood: "At the heart of everything there is always human pride or God, that is, the two forms of freedom" (Resurrection from the Underground 139). As within every person so within every literary character of Dostoevsky and O'Connor, the heart is a battleground between God and Satan, or more accurately, between the authority of Christ and that of the autonomous self.