Walker Percy's Comic Vision: Reconciling Grace in a Racially Riven Culture
Walker Percy—at once an heir of Southern Stoicism and also a Christian convert who rejected it—stands in a uniquely well-suited place to comment satirically and constructively upon the shortcomings of Southern culture. Raised by his Stoic uncle Will, a Southern aristocrat-planter, and converting later on to Catholicism and realizing his calling as a writer, Walker Percy offers in both his fiction and his nonfiction a well-informed historical, ethical, and theological perspective from both the Stoic and Christian traditions. In this thesis, I bring Percy’s reflection from his essays and novels on the American issue of the race question into conversation with the history of racial ethics in the Southern Stoic tradition, as well as trends in the practical theology of the Southern church during the Civil Rights Era. Percy’s reflections offer not only scathing critique of the moral and ethical shortcomings of both the Southern Stoa and the Southern church, but also a comic corrective and vision for a reconciled life together.