Flannery O'Connor is a supreme example of a differently abled writer who found that the physical challenges resulting from her chronic illness (systematic lupus erythematosus or SLE) gradually became essential to her sense of her own being and were "usefully" (a word she loved) translated into her fiction. SLE is a chronic and usually fatal disease involving pathological changes in the vascular system, with the associated symptoms of fever, arthritis, and renal and organ involvement. Downplaying the considerable personal suffering and difficulty she endured, O'Connor nevertheless returned increasingly to the metaphors of physical disability in her fiction until in the final collection of stories, Everything That Rises Must Converge, her fictional world is permeated with illness and accident. What O'Connor may never have admitted was that her work may have afforded an outlet for the exploration of emotional and psychological responses to disability, feelings that she strictly regulated in her conscious work. A number of commentators have suggested that "the act of writing itself performed an expressive function for O'Connor which helped her to transcend the anger and pain she felt at her situation" (Sturma 115). While it may well be, as O'Connor would certainly have wanted us to think, that her disease played only a secondary role in shaping her fiction, it is also true that chronic illness or physical challenge enters many of her stories after Wise Blood and becomes an important metaphoric vehicle in her stories.



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