Regina O’Connor, The Diplomat

Regina O’Connor

In The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon, one my favorite O’Connor letters tells a story about how the displaced persons who lived at Andalusia interacted with the longtime farmhands:

“The D. P. [the Displaced Person, Mr. Matysiak] and Shot nearly choked each other in the wagon the other day and now my mother is almost afraid to send them to the field together for fear one won’t come back. She gave him a long lecture that night through Alfred, the 12 yr. old boy. She kept saying, ‘You tell your father that he’s a gentleman, that I KNOW he’s a gentleman and that gentlemen don’t fight with poor negroes like Shot that don’t have any sense.’ I think he then told his father in Polish that she said Shot didn’t have any sense. Father agreed. Too much agreement. She knew it hadn’t gone through and started again. “You tell your father that he is, etc.’ Finally Alfred admitted he didn’t know what a gentleman was, even in English. She was very successful in communicating with Shot, however. ‘Now Shot,’ she said, ‘you are very intelligent. You are much too intelligent to fight with a man that we can’t understand very well, now you know you are above this, etc. etc.’ He agreed with every word, but said Mr. Matysiak had hit him first.”

—Flannery O’Connor to Caroline Gordon, 8 February 1954, The Letters

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