Stories, Stories, Stories: An Analysis of The Crop by Flannery O’Connor

Multiple people have written, while analyzing O’Connor’s writing, about how much humor she includes. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but with this story, The Crop, it really wasn’t hard at all. The Crop is the type of story I feel like O’Connor would write when she had writer’s block. It’s a story about how hard stories are, and the difficulties involved in writing them.

It follows a character named Miss Willerton as she attempts to figure out what she should write. As many of O’Connor’s characters that I’ve encountered so far, Willerton has a bloated view of herself, but also has a comical semi-obsession with being “sophisticated” in her writing. It really is hilarious.

The Crop seems to be simple story about how hard stories are.

The way O’Connor writes Miss Willerton allows you to feel the disdain she has for the “un-artistic” people she lives with. When she goes to sit down at the typewriter and start writing, though, she can’t come up with a story. She decides to write about sharecropping, after this amusing passage:

Social problem. Social problem. Hmmm. Sharecroppers! Miss Willerton had never been intimately connected with sharecroppers but, she reflected, they would make as arty a subject as any, and they would give her that air of social concern which was so valuable to have in the circles she was hoping to travel!

The humor is obvious, but it also provides a contrast to O’Connor herself, I find.

By this, I mean that reading this story, and seeing a writer obsessed with being sophisticated and artistic contrasted with what O’Connor seems to write about. I highly doubt she intended this, but if you think about it what are the primary subjects of O’Connor’s stories, at least so far?

Most of the time, O’Connor simply writes about, well, simple people. As far as I can tell, and I may very well be wrong on this, she doesn’t seem to attempt to make grand, sweeping statements about much of anything. Instead she tells simple stories, about a man who can’t get along with the city he’s in. Stories about a man convinced he’s right. Stories about terrified people, who think they’re stronger then they really are.

It’s an interesting contrast, and one that I enjoyed reading. Of course, as it must, the story ends with yet another humorous passage as Miss Willerton reads back over the story she’s written less than a paragraph of:

“That sounds awful!” Miss Willerton muttered. “It’s not a good subject anyway,” she decided. She needed something more colorful­–more arty. Miss Willerton looked at her typewriter for a long time. Then of a sudden her fist hit the desk in several ecstatic little bounces. “The Irish!” she squealed. “The Irish!” Miss Willerton had always admired the Irish. Their brogue, she thought, was full of music; and their history–splendid! And the people she mused, the Irish people! They were full of spirit–red-haired, with broad shoulders and great, drooping mustaches.

I’ve read the story a few times, and I can’t find any deeper meaning–which is fine. Sometimes stories are just stories, and this one seems to be just that. It’s fun to read what seems like O’Connor sighing, lamenting the difficulty of story-telling. Thankfully though, unlike Miss Willerton, O’Connor actually finished her stories.