Flannery O’Connor’s Catholic upbringing influenced almost all her fiction, often garnering criticism because of her stark, sometimes harsh portrayal of religion. O’Connor’s great-grandparents had been some of the first Catholics to live in Milledgeville, Georgia, and her family stood out in the predominantly Protestant South. O’Connor attended parochial school and frequently went to Mass with her family. Although her stories and novels are often violent and macabre, they are rooted in her belief in the mysteries of belief and divinity. Moreover, her characters often face violent or jarring situations that force them into a moment of crisis that awakens or alters their faith. Moments of grace—a Christian idea—are pervasive, such as the grandmother’s moment of grace in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” For O’Connor, writing was inextricable from her Christian beliefs, and she believed she wouldn’t be able to write were it not for this background. In a lecture about “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” in 1943, O’Connor said, “Belief, in my own case anyway, is the engine that makes perception operate.” She also attributed her desire to write to her Catholicism, writing once in a letter, “I feel that if I were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason ever to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything.”

Read more about the utilization of Catholic themes in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited,