A Personal Apocalypse: Ecological Poetics in Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Greenleaf”


  • Simona Bajáková Comenius University




Flannery O’Connor, Paul Ricoeur, ecocriticism, metaphor, anthropocentrism


Mrs. May, the main character in Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Greenleaf,” undergoes a personal apocalypse. Her destiny is foreshadowed throughout the short story in her struggle with accepting ecological thinking. This paper analyses “Greenleaf” through an ecocritical perspective and focuses on O’Connor’s unique employment of the trope of apocalypticism as well as nature metaphors. While previous research in O’Connor studies has delved into the theme of ecology, the concern of this paper is to discuss the author’s ecological poetics, which thus far remain under-researched. Building my analysis on Paul Ricoeur’s theory of metaphor, I will argue that Mrs. May’s personal apocalypse is metaphorical and expresses the theme of anthropocentrism as a cataclysmic force. My goal is to demonstrate how O’Connor’s ecological poetics become evident through apocalyptic tropology and nature metaphors.

Author Biography

Simona Bajáková, Comenius University

Simona Bajáková is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature at the Department of British and American Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University in Bratislava. She holds a master’s degree in English and Philosophy, also obtained from Comenius University. Her dissertation thesis focuses on environmental criticism and Flannery O’Connor’s fiction.


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How to Cite

Bajáková, S. (2023). A Personal Apocalypse: Ecological Poetics in Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Greenleaf”. American & British Studies Annual, 16, 106–120. https://doi.org/10.46585/absa.2023.16.2512