The Violent Bear It Away
by Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor doesn't make it easy to like her characters. Protagonist Francis Tarwater vacillates between the obsessive religious dogma of his great-uncle Mason and the atheistic revolt of his uncle Rayber, and isn't sympathetic in either mindset. Rayber and Mason are equally intolerant and unreasoning, coming from opposite sides, and Francis holds the same flaws. His faith is a compulsion, and his atheism puts him at war with himself. It's a morality tale, but one that almost excludes the possibility of goodness.