A Peripety

ceara and david
Peripety: The unforeseen incident which brings about a solution and yet springs out of what has gone before.

I think you need in this story [“The Enduring Chill”] what Aristotle called “a peripety,” the unforeseen incident which brings about a solution and yet springs out of what has gone before. Suppose that, as very well might be, one of the students in this class is a sort of Fr. Wiegel, a young priest whose superiors have allowed him to take this course. They do this thing all the time–l had a colored Franciscan monk taking my novel course at Columbia. Suppose this priest were dark and saturnine–in short, Asbury’s idea of what a Jesuit should be. Suppose–as happened the other night in my class–the students repaired to somebody’s apartment and had a bull session. The priest would certainly maintain a certain reserve since he knows something that the lecturer doesn’t know. Asbury, misinterpreting this reserve, might call for a Jesuit–and get one who seems very different but who, in the end, is the same kind of fellow. You would then have a perfectly credible and operative peripety.

–Caroline Gordon to Flannery O’Connor [21 January 2019], from The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon

 

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